PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Pete Redero wanted to spend a day at the beach, but when he put up an umbrella on the sand at Belleair Shore, a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy issued a ticket for $116.
Redero decided to fight the ticket.
“Never in my life I expected to be in criminal court for an umbrella and hire a lawyer and be through all of this,” said Redero, who has now been fighting the fine for more than a year.
On Friday, he was once again in a Pinellas County Courtroom with his attorney who is the former mayor of the neighboring town of Belleair Beach.
“This does affect all Floridians, it’s not just this town,” attorney Joseph Manzo said. “If they get away with making a rational basis, simple arguments saying this is unsafe, well then, there is no limit because chairs can be unsafe, towels can be unsafe, swimming can be unsafe, skim boarding, walking, running, you name it.”
He argues the ordinance limits a citizen’s right to assemble.
“Basically, they are saying you can meet on the beach if you’d like, but when you get there in July, you can’t protect yourself from the sun,” said Manzo who says this ordinance is the only one of its kind in Florida.
Manzo maintains if Belleair Shore wins this, then other towns will do the same.
The attorney for Belleair Shore said the town has the right to enact legislation as they see fit.
“It’s our position and it’s the town’s position that they can enact, with their legislative powers,” attorney Martin Champagne said. “They can enact these ordinances and it was for the judge to determine today whether we are right or we are wrong.”
The judge in the case is expected to issue a ruling in two weeks.