Miami backs off surfing ban on beaches

Jan. 12, 2012 at 5:48 PM

MIAMI, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Surfers in Miami say they are celebrating the end of a short-lived ban on surfing on the city's famous stretch of beachfront.

City officials responded to complaints that surfers, paddleboarders, kite surfers and other athletes had been limited to the southern tip of Miami Beach, and agreed to once again open up other areas along the beachfront.

"We're conscious of the fact this was not handled appropriately and that surfing has always been allowed in Miami Beach," Commissioner Michael Gongora told The Miami Herald Wednesday.

Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez said the city began enforcing the ban last month after receiving complaints about kite surfing and paddle boarding on the beach.

Local athletes had almost free rein over the beach for years were quick to voice their displeasure.

"The water sports community, we are freaking out," Mike Gibaldi, a board member of the surfing activist group Surfrider Foundation, said. "To take all the surfers in Miami Beach and jam them down south of Second Street and also jam in paddle boards and kite surfers, that is a recipe for disaster, injuries, lawsuits, chaos."

The city said it plans to discuss the city's regulation of surfing and other water sports at an upcoming commission committee meeting.

In the meantime, surfers are back on the beach.

"Let them surf," Commissioner Jerry Libbin said. "They know where they're allowed."

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