Surfrider Broward Chapter Campaign to Reduce/Remove Stand Up Paddle Restrictions on Hollywood Beach

This is an ongoing campaign and updates appear towards the bottom of this page.

The problem:

Currently, it is illegal to stand up paddle the majority of the beach in Hollywood, (even when there isn’t anyone else in the water). The 2 small areas allowed to us are at opposite ends of the beach, far from the main area of the Broadwalk.  This law was made decades ago, before stand up paddleboards even existed.

Current paddle zones:

These 2 small zones are at opposite ends of the beach, which does not allow us to access cafes and other businesses. The areas can also be dangerous for women to launch on their own at dawn or dusk.  When we paddle outside of the zone, even if there are NO people in the water, the lifeguards will kick us out of the area or whistle us out to sea.

Restricting paddlers to a small area:

Restricting paddlers to a small area doesn’t make sense, especially when swimmers are currently allowed inside our small area. When we can paddle freely, it is easier to avoid people in the water.  We have actually been whistled away from an empty spot back to a more crowded spot.  It doesn’t make sense.

Stand up surfing:

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.

Tourism:

Our Broadwalk is usually a busy, vibrant place, and often times, our greatest resource (the ocean) is empty.  We should be promoting water recreation on our beautiful beach, making it friendly to non-harmful eco-tourism. With all of the other positive changes on Hollywood Beach, we believe this will be another positive change. Even when there is seaweed on or by the shoreline, there is beautiful clear water about 20 feet off shore, sometimes with manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays.  Imagine the Trip Advisor reviews if visitors could have a beautiful experience on the ocean.

Supporting our local businesses:

Currently, there isn’t a single place on the Broadwalk where we are allowed to paddle where we can eat a meal, have a drink, buy an ice cream, etc.  This hurts local businesses.  It would be so nice to be able to come to the beach and paddle with the family while supporting local cafes.  When choosing a beach hotel for a vacation, I know that I wouldn’t choose a beach where paddling was outlawed.

No signage:

Currently, there are no signs about paddle zones.  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.

Meeting to discuss expansion of paddle zone October 1st:

After many emails, I met with David (Parks and Rec), Bruce (Beach Safety Chief), and 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.

October 20th:

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).

Time to evolve and activate our ocean for enjoyment:

I’ve heard that flying a kite and playing with a ball used to not be allowed at the beach either.  I hope to one day be saying, “Can you believe that we used to not be able to paddle along the beach?”  As much as I like having the ocean all to myself on a beautiful day, it often makes me really sad that nobody is out experiencing the beauty of our beach.

Update on meeting November 14th:

I met with 4 supportive residents, Mayor Josh Levy, Bruce, David, and several police officers at City Hall to discuss revising the current ordinance.  We advocated for full removal of stand up paddle restrictions, giving power to lifeguards to use discretion and common sense.  This follows the example of Brevard County Beaches which have no restrictions except for a tiny area by their rock jetty.  If someone is not in control of their board, they just ask them to put on a leash.  Brevard County beaches have waves, so Hollywood Beach is actually much safer for paddling because it’s usually flat. When it’s choppy and windy, beginners usually don’t want to be out in the ocean, and won’t be able to stand or get very far anyway.  Local shops could sell leashes, and any rental places could require life jackets.  Surfrider offered to help provide signage for the beach about paddle safety.  I am also willing to do free SUP workshops on the beach.

Future action:

Come to Hollywood City Hall November 20th at 4:30 pm to fill out a speaker card for Citizens Comments at 5 pm. 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. You can also email the city commission.

Mayor Levy is in discussion with Bruce, David, and the police about a new ordinance, so we are in negotiations.  Again, we advocate to be able to paddle freely, and that the lifeguards be given license to have discretion and common sense.  If a paddler is experienced and in control of their board, not bothering anyone, that paddler should not be harassed.  We thank Mayor Levy for working on this issue.