Saturday, September 12, 2009

Private Beach: no trespassing

A few blocks from my mother's summer home in Dennisport, MA is an appalling number of private areas. Not only are there private roads, private neighborhoods, but there are private beaches. Come on, this isn't a beautiful stretch of undisturbed South Pacific paradise. This is the south side of Cape Cod where the beaches are only a dozen yards wide and there's a breakwater every hundred feet. Not exactly Tahiti.

We came home early from vacation last night due to the rain and a now reported TWELVE great white sharks hunting off our favorite surfing spots (a fun update on that hopefully tomorrow!). In the rush to come home I have unfortunately left the cord to my camera at the beach house so I can't download pictures for now. But trust me when I say there's one road with three signs all telling you it's private and so is their beach.

There's also one stretch of town beach that's only about 15 feet wide with chain link fence right down to the high tide line on either side. Signs of course are affixed to the fence declaring "PRIVATE - NO TRESPASSING."

I've never understood the private beach. I'd almost rather sit next to a different person every day then suffer the same potentially annoying neighbor every day. I mean, what if the person owning million dollar summer home next to yours is just plain obnoxious. If all the beaches were public then you have at least a few other people between you and your neighbor.

OK, so I don't have a million dollar summer home. I borrow my mother's far from million dollar summer cottage. And I usually don't even go to the beach at the end of her road because I'm offended by the chain link fence that runs from the sea wall right down to the high tide line keeping us riff-raff off the beach of the time-share next door.

In Massachusetts you are allowed to own a beach right down to the high tide line. Meaning that your everyday commoner can walk below the high tide line in front of your property. But don't expect to be treated kindly by the homeowner owning property you're walking in front of. My husband was doing just that once while on Nantucket and was chased away by the famous person (who shall remain unnamed) who owned the property. Technically my husband was obeying the law.

If you own property like this and allow us commoners to use it then thank you. If not then shame on you for hoarding all the beautiful views. I hope someday I can afford a stretch of private beach so I can deed it to the public. Like Mr. Crane did up in our hometown of Ipswich, MA when he left one of the east coast's most beautiful stretches of sand (to the right) to the town and the Trustees of Reservations. Thank you Mr. Crane! Now everyone can enjoy your beautiful view.


  1. What a pity!!!I agree with you on all counts.Where do commoners go then??? Very ,very sad.People here too buy pvt's not so bad here though.

  2. And I agree with Charmine. The world is shrinking so fast because there are more and more of us, but if we don't learn to share what's left, then we will soon forget we are all brothers and sisters.

  3. I don't understand the private beach concept at all. I realize people like privacy around their homes, but somehow it doesn't seem right to claim the rights to the ocean shoreline also. It seems greedy to me to grab up the beach access and beautiful view and claim it all to one's self. As long as someone is not being destructive, then I think it should be shared.

  4. I like your idea of deeding it to the public, what sweet revenge.

  5. That is just so wrong, some places should be for everyone. One of the best things I like about the Oregon Coast, our favorite, is that no one is allowed to "own" the beach.

  6. That's crazy to be able to own the beach, makes me want to go around trespassing ostentatiously.

    There is a chain of estate agents here called Ocean and when a visiting African friend saw the sign outside a house saying


    he was flabbergasted

  7. They should treat it like they do homes in the suburbs. The land from the sidewalk to the street is public property. The sand should be public property. How awful to have your beach walk interrupted by a fence. That's just ugly.

  8. Excuse me...there are no private beaches because they are meant for public!

    If GOD is the name of the owner then I won't complain.


  9. How did I know you'd all feel the same way I do? "Commoners" go to town beaches, and if you don't have a tax payer sticker on your car you have to pay up to $20 to park. We're lucky that we can walk to a beach near my mom's house and have a tax payer sticker for Crane's Beach near our home in Ipswich, MA.

    But, I do feel bad having that beach sticker when others have to pay, at least the town and the Trustees let everyone in regardless of social class!

    I hear on the West Coast all beaches are public, they sure do that right!

    thanks for reading everyone! I will catch up on all your blogs soon, it's been a busy vacation and still going! -kate


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