Surfrider Foundation Georgia opposes changes to the Shoreline Protection Act in HB 445.

  • The proposed changes impact dunes, beaches and other critical components of Georgia’s sand sharing system.
  • Protections should extend to at least 50 feet behind dunes and manmade structures and expand to 150 feet where there is only an ordinary high water mark from which to measure.
  • Private landowners should not have the right to unilaterally act in a manner that negatively impacts coastlines or public rights to the beach. The State of Georgia needs to adopt a reasonable approach that balances these important public and private rights.

HB 445 would

  • Prevent local governments from forming shore protection committees to pass ordinances to address sea level rise. 
  • Give the DNR Commissioner authority to issue “letters of permission” for “minor projects,” like boardwalks across sand dunes. This would put the approval process for a large number of projects behind closed doors.
  • Designate the most dynamic area of our beaches between either the most landward sand dune, the crest of a sea wall, the ordinary high water mark and 25 feet landward. Land use activities in this area would need authorization from the DNR, but land uses beyond 25 feet landward of one of these structures would not be restricted by state laws. In a time with strong storms and storm surge, the buffer between our beach and homes needs to be much deeper than 25 feet.
  • Source: 100 Miles

Status/History

  • On March 5, 2019, the House passed HB 445 by a vote of 113-54. More info at [Augusta Chronicle]
  • Attempts to weaken the Georgia Shore Protection Act are back! See House Bill 445.
  • In 2017, House Bill 271 passed out of the House but was tabled by the Senate Natural Resources Committee for further study during the summer and fall of 2017.
  • HB271 (271/CSFA) [Mar/03/2017 – Senate Read and Referred]
  • HB271  (LC 40 1467S) [Feb/23/2017 – House Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute]
  • House Bill Info (2017)

HB 271 from 2017 would:

  • Reduces the set back, which requires structures and uses to be sited inland a minimum distance from a specific shoreline feature, to an unreasonably short distance of 25 feet not based on any scientific or other findings. [The bill passed on 3/3/2017 by the House and sent to the Senate retained the 25 foot jurisdictional limit but added, for property owned by the state, a 100 foot limit in the absence of any sand dune or structure.]
  • Changes the definition of “sand dune” in an adverse manner. The proposed definition makes it easier for beachfront property owners to landscape sand dunes as part of their own private property. This change in definition could also result in the loss of sand dunes up and down our coast and degrade the quality of the essential dune system that protects our coast. [The bill passed on 3/3/2017 by the House and sent to the Senate removed the unfavorable amendment to the definition of “sand dune.”]
  • Weakens the permitting system by allowing individual commissioners to issue permits for “minor activities” including alterations of up to one-third of a parcel and adding elevated crosswalks across sand dunes.