Make Surfing Legal in Hallandale and Hollywood

Make Surfing Legal in Hallandale and Hollywood

Recently our local Broward county Surfrider chair, Catherine Uden, has been on a mission to make stand-up paddleboarding and surfing legal in Hallandale and Hollywood Beach.

We have not heard about surfers breaking the law since the 1964 ban in Palm Beach county, but,  those choosing to catch waves or paddle off Hallandale beach are breaking a town law.

Catherine shares on their Surfrider website,

“Usually, there are no surfable waves on our beach. But it’s still very enjoyable to be able to paddle flat water, which is what people at our beach like to do most of the time.  On the few days out of the year when there are waves, we should be able to take advantage of them, as long as we are in control of our boards.  Waves break usually at low tide, and over shallow areas- sometimes that spot just south of Manta Ray Inn has some little waves over the sand bar. Lifeguards should be able to use discretion and common sense and allow us to continue enjoying waves if we aren’t near anyone or bothering anyone.” But currently that is not the case. This who choose to paddle or surf in the area are often told they have to leave by local lifeguards due to the law.”W

The Supreme Court Case

In 1970, the ban on surfing was taken to the Supreme Court of Florida when Bruce Arthur Carter petitioned the Town of Palm Beach, Florida for a similar ban along their beaches. The landmark ruling prohibited cities from outlawing surfing calling the ban “arbitrary and unreasonable”.

According to Tom Warnke, executive director of the Surfing Florida Museum in West Palm Beach, “The [Florida] Supreme Court ruled you could regulate it, but you can’t ban it.”

Surfing Outlawed in the 60s in Palm Beach County

The oldest image of a known Palm Beach County surfer shows Tom Lawton at the old Palm Beach pier in 1937, with his hollow0style wooden surfboard. A 1978 photo of David Reese of Palm Beach, who helped establish the Eastern Surfing Association’s contests. Reese’s father had been the mayor of the Town of Palm Beach, which banned surfing in 1964. Attorney Joel Daves, who became West Palm Beach mayor, took the surfers’ fight to the Florida Supreme Court in 1970 and won.

Where is surfing legal in Hallandale & Hollywood?

As of today,  both Hallandale and Hollywood do not display signage about designated or forbidden paddle zones. Since the zones are unclear, Surfers and paddleboarders are usually not notified of specified areas or the laws until waved in by Ocean Rescue. Surfrider explains, “People have come to Hollywood Beach, paid for parking, gotten their board off the roof, and walked out to the sand, only to be told by the lifeguard that they aren’t allowed to launch.  This is a bad experience.”

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

On October 1st, our Broward Surfrider chair was able to meet with David from Hollywood Parks and Rec and Bruce who is the Hollywood Beach Safety Chief. They were joined by 3 residents in support of paddle zone expansion.  Bruce agreed to expand the zone at Azalea Terrace on the south end by 4 streets.  He said it would be effective immediately, and he would let the lifeguards know.  He also assured us that the lifeguards could “black flag” any section where we found waves to surf.  This expansion, though, did not include areas of the main Broadwalk. But less than three weeks later, Catherine went to paddle in this newly expanded area with her son.

She explains her experience on the Surfrider Broward site:

“It was a gorgeous morning on Hollywood Beach Saturday, and what a nice surprise to actually find some small breaking waves (just south of Manta Ray Inn) to surf with my son.  I thought we were going to the beach for a flat water paddle.  Surprisingly, I caught a couple of long rides and 3 other paddlers paddled over to catch waves, too. One guy said to me, smiling, “This is rare!  We usually don’t get these fun little waves”.  Shortly after expressing his joy, 2 beach patrols on buggies drove over and whistled us out of the water.  I thought maybe they didn’t hear that Bruce extended the paddle zone for us south of Azalea Terr. (plus, the ocean was empty and there was no reason to kick us out).

They called their supervisor, and he said we still had to leave.  I asked if they could “black flag” it so that we could continue to surf.  We were kicked out of this area anyway, even though there was NOBODY else in the water except the 5 people trying to catch the few tiny waves thrown our way.  The beach was deserted. The lifeguards did try to be very nice about it, and I understand they are just trying to do their job enforcing an outdated rule.  My son and I had to paddle away from the only surfable waves on our beach.  It’s a shame we couldn’t enjoy nature on a pretty morning when there were zero people in the water (except for the 5 paddlers trying to catch waves).”

Want to join Catherine in making a change?

Ask the city of Hollywood to place “Removal of Stand Up Restrictions” on a city meeting agenda and state why you believe the restrictions should be removed.

If you can not make a meeting, you can also email the Hollywood city commission.

 

About The Author

Toni

My name is Toni. I have lived in South Florida for most of my life and remember always looking forward to Island Water Sport's Midnight Madness. IWS has always been family. Growing up with a dad who loved to surf, I naturally loved the water. I have been blessed to work in the skateboarding industry while freelancing for magazines like Eastern Surf Magazine, The Paper, Juxtapose, Reggae Times, and Big Brother. Although I love to dabble in writing, marketing, and geeking out on the internet, my life's passion is investing in the lives of skateboarders and building skateparks around the world with my family.

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