The Regulation of Coastal Properties in An Era of King Tides

This Article explores the implications of this era of high tides and storms along with current regulatory schemes in South Carolina’s Beachfront Management Act (BMA). Additionally, this Article poses solutions to the new needs and issues unaddressed by current regulation. South Carolina adopted the BMA to protect beachfront property and prevent erosion. The BMA specifically established jurisdictional lines that trigger regulatory restrictions, prohibitions, and limitations that prevent private interest from negatively impacting the public beachfront property. However, due to constitutional challenges and budget provisos, the BMA allows various exemptions that affect the consistent application of the Act’s intended restrictions, prohibitions, and limitations. Currently, property owners that do not qualify for any of the exemptions have few “self-help” measures to employ for the protection of beachfront property, including sandbags, sand scraping, and beach nourishment. However, the correct application of each of these measures poses challenges in practicality and funding for the different types of property owners. To address these issues, the South Carolina legislature, Department of Health and Environmental Control, environmental advocacy groups, coastal communities, and those with development interests should join forces and encourage the investigation and development of additional protective measures to preserve property and protect public resources.

Mary D. Shahid & Angelica M. Colwell

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