FORT LAUDERDALE — Every weekend, a young and rowdy party crowd takes over a secluded strip of Fort Lauderdale beach, leaving behind condoms, beer bottles, smoldering bonfires — and hundreds of well-to-do homeowners thoroughly annoyed by the putrid stench of urine and stale beer.
Young people flock to Fort Lauderdale beach on Saturday Jan. 30, 2021.
The U.S. Supreme Court
in 2018 rejected an appeal from a California billionaire
angered when the state kept him from blocking an access road
to his private beach, a famous surfer haunt.
And further to the north, waterfront mansions in the Town of Palm Beach have been criticized for their “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs. High hedges and walls only help to block access to most of the island’s coastline.
This is not Point of Americas’ first battle over beach access.
In 1993, the Point of Americas twin condos got city permission to lock the gate at night to keep young people from using the Port Everglades rock jetty as a hangout.
Ten years later, commissioners ordered the gate torn down to allow the public free access to the beach. The gate was later replaced but kept open.
The high-end condo dwellers at Point of Americas now say youthful partiers frequently wander onto the private beach, despite signs warning them away.
The beach fronting Point of Americas is private from the condo to the mean high tide line — the point the water reaches at high tide. The public portion of the beach sits seaward of that line.
It used to be a quiet oasis, but not since the kids came to party.
In 1999, a luxury condo along Fort Lauderdale’s Galt Ocean Mile put up ropes and signs in an attempt to keep the public off its beach. State officials ordered the condo to remove the signs and the rope because they were put up without permission.
“This past Saturday we had at least 300 kids out on the beach,” Montero said. “They range in age from 15 to 25.”
Montero said the scene reminded him of the wild days of Spring Break more than three decades ago, when he, too, was a college kid on the prowl.
“People thought we were crazy when we were coming down for Spring Break in the 1980s,” he said. “We were angels compared to these kids. They come onto our property and want to use our cabanas. They leave beer cans everywhere. They pee wherever they want to pee. There’s beer bottles, condoms. You name it, we find it.”
Locking the 6-foot-high gate overnight would help solve the problem, Montero argues.
Montero said things have gotten worse since the coronavirus pandemic hit. The crowds seem to be getting bigger and showing up more frequently.
“I think COVID has compounded the problem,” he said. “They’re doing classes on Zoom. Normally the problem was on the weekends. Now it’s every day.”
News about the out-of-the-way hangout spread by word of mouth and on social media, Montero said.
“If you are underage and you want to drink alcohol and get crazy, you’re not going to go to the strip from Las Olas north,” Montero said. “Police patrol that area. But we’re a little corner tucked away.”
Point of Americas has hired an off-duty detail officer to work a few hours during the day on weekends, just to keep an eye on things.
But most days, the cop is far outnumbered, Montero said.
He wants to try a 45-day pilot program to see whether that keeps the frisky day-trippers from turning into peace-disturbing nightwalkers.