(WSVN) - In Florida, we often assume beaches are open to the public, but one woman actually owns and lives on one part of Deerfield Beach, and as Kevin Ozebek explains, she and the city are now literally in a legal “Battle for the Beach.”
This stretch of sand near the Deerfield Beach Pier is a true South Florida gem.
Margaret Ferguson, sunbather: “The beach is beautiful. It is just pristine.”
But when you walk just north of the pier, there is no missing this taped-off trailer.
Risa Greenberg, sunbather: “It’s an eyesore.”
Scott Ferguson, sunbather: “It doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. I’ll put it that way.”
The president of the condo association for these units near the trailer isn’t thrilled with his neighbor.
Jim D’Agostino, condo association president: “She has done nothing but been a nuisance to our community.”
The woman who calls this trailer home is Kristina Clothier.
Kristina Clothier: “If I had to choose, this would not be my ideal.”
Despite living next to a public stretch of beach, Kristina owns two plots of beach property. She inherited them from her father.
Decades ago, private homes dotted the beach. Now most of the beach is public, and Kristina wants to keep it that way. She wants to sell her land to the city, but they’re not buying.
Kevin Ozebek: “What do you want to say to Deerfield Beach?”
Kristina Clothier: “‘Do the right thing, which you should have done years ago.'”
Kevin Ozebek: “And that is?”
Kristina Clothier: “To purchase the property.”
In 2017, Kristina says the city placed two trash and recycle cans on her property.
Kristina Clothier: “I am paying a ridiculous amount in taxes, and if the city wants to use the property, then buy the property.”
Kristina says she put up “no trespassing” signs. Deerfield Beach Code Compliance then fined her for “unpermitted signs” and “unpermitted placement of signs.”
Kristina Clothier: “They’re trying to wear me down. It’s not going to work.”
Kristina racked up $49,880 worth of code violations, which she has not paid.
The city is now suing Kristina, arguing it’s “authorized to foreclose on the code enforcement liens.”
Kristina’s attorney disagrees.
Robert Sweetapple, Kristina’s attorney: “Instead of buying it, they are attempting to take it through these unfounded, known baseless code violations.”
In a statement, the city tells 7News, “Code violation complaints … are investigated and enforced.” The city “would prefer that the property owner address all outstanding violations and bring the property into full compliance.”
Kristina Clothier: “You have a government entity saying, ‘No, you don’t own it. We can use it for our gain, for our own property, and you just keep paying those taxes!’ No , that’s not right, and that’s not American.”
Kristina’s two sandy plots have a combined market value of more than $761,000, but she has them listed for about double that amount, at nearly $1.5 million. She says that is negotiable.
Kristina says, until they are sold, the beach will remain her home.
Kevin Ozebek: “How much of this is principle?”
Kristina Clothier: “I would say ALL of it. Absolutely all of it. The problem is, this is everything I own.”
Jim D’Agostino: “She’s just in this for the big dollar, basically. It’s pretty obvious why she’s doing this.”
So now, the battle for this part of the beach is heading from the sand to the courtroom.
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