BELLEAIR SHORE, Fla. — No umbrellas, tents or canopies allowed at the beach! That’s an actual rule at Florida's Belleair Shore, a Pinellas County coastal community. Some beachgoers are throwing shade on the ordinance after one man was ticketed $116 for his umbrella.
Pedro “Pete” Redero said the Florida sun is not something he likes to mess with because he’s had several issues with skin cancer.
“I’ve had several cancer spots taken off of my face,” he explained.
Last month on June 12th, Redero put up his umbrella to enjoy some shade on the beach in Bellaire Shore. Soon after, some friends joined him with their canopies.
Just before 4 p.m., he said two Pinellas County Deputies approached them.
“The officers (deputies) came and told us we had to take the umbrella down. I said 'why is it that we have to take the umbrella down' and he said 'it’s an ordinance here that you can’t have the umbrella up,'” Redero recalled. “Then, they went right ahead and gave me a ticket.”
The ticket was for $116, and the citation stated the offense was “having an umbrella on the beach within the city limits.”
“I’ve had my umbrella for years and years and I’ve used it in different places and beaches. It’s 7 feet wide and is a regular beach or pool umbrella. It’s nothing outrageous,” Redero added.
Bellaire Shore’s ordinance banning temporary shade structures like umbrellas and tents has been on the books for about two years. Back in 2020, town leaders established the new rule and added signage on the beach and at beach accesses.
Although it has been two years, residents in Belleair Beach, the next town over, said that recently deputies have been issuing more warnings and asking more people to disassemble their umbrellas. Redero had been warned about his umbrella being in violation previously, according to the citation he received.
Bellaire Shore said the change was made “in the best interests of the health, safety and welfare of the community.”
Attorney Joseph Manzo, who is the former mayor of adjoining Belleair Beach, has filed one lawsuit on the topic and now plans to file a second lawsuit on behalf of Redero.
Manzo believes the 73 beachfront residents in Bellaire Shore want to keep their view and their beach as private as possible. The town consists of just 57 properties which are all along a mile-long stretch of beach. The average home value, according to Zillow, is $4.97 million. That makes it the ninth most expensive city in the USA, also according to Zillow.
“They’ve got a view 24/7. All we want is some shade protection from the sun,” Manzo said.
Manzo said 48 residents from the next town over, Belleair Beach, are backing his lawsuit. That includes some families with kids who love coming to Belleair Shore since it’s the closest beach to their homes.
Theodora Servos is one of those kids and she explained, “going to the beach used to be really fun but without the umbrella, it gets really hot.”
“I don’t think it’s fair because they can get sunburnt and anything can happen,” Her sister, Demetra Servos, added.
Belleair Shore was contacted about their umbrella ban and the lawsuits but they said they don’t comment on active litigation. Redero is due in court on August 4 for the citation he received for his umbrella, and Manzo said he wouldn’t be letting this issue cool down.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd,” he said of the temporary shade ban.
Belleair Shore also bans food and bicycles from their beach, according to signs posted along the coastline and rules posted on the town’s website.
"You should be allowed to have an Oreo cookie with your kid on the beach while sitting under a beach umbrella," Manzo added.
This story was originally published by WFTS in Tampa Bay, Florida.