Re: [OPE-L] Surfing relations and private property

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Wed Aug 23 2006 - 13:03:32 EDT

Hi Jurriaan:

There is a long tradition in many countries -- going back many centuries
(but I'm not sure where exactly it originated)-- for all of the land at
the water's edge in navigable waters below the high tide line to be public
property.  Obviously, surfing itself takes place in the water so while
surfing one is on public waters, not private land.  If one is on the beach
below the high water mark, one is also on public land (indeed, in some
social formations _all_ beaches by navigable waters are public).  But,
this long-standing tradition isn't recognized by all parties.  Clearly,
the surfing gangs that the article refers to don't respect that tradition
and real estate developers, bankers, and others in favor of privatization
would love to see it ended as well.  In the US, many waterfront
communities have restricted access to public beaches -- for instance, by
allowing people the right to use a beach but no way except by water to get
to the beach (e.g. by restricting parking near the beaches to local
residents).  This is often discriminatory -- which was an undertone to the
surfing story you brought to our attention.

On a related note, I heard on 'public radio' this morning that in the US,
there are cities and states which are selling highways: the cities and
states are paid for the properties and don't have to pay for maintenance
and the purchasers can charge whatever tolls they want!  The story
reported that over 30 states are considering such a move and Goldman Sachs
has been in negotiation with them over this possibility.  Of course, there
are many other public properties which have undergone privatization --
especially in the former 'socialist' nations.

In solidarity, Jerry

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