A sign on a private beach in Brick Township that was recently replenished with federal tax dollars. The nearby houses are occupied almost exclusively by summer residents yet they want to keep year-round locals off the beach.

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Spring is in the air. The days are getting longer, the sun is shining and the crocuses are blooming. You know what that means? Yup. It means more battles over beach access. These battles have been going on at the Jersey Shore for as long as I can remember. The battle lines are quite different than what many people believe.

The common misconception is that the locals are conspiring to keep the bennies off their beaches. More often than not, the opposite is the case.

For most of the year, we locals have unimpeded access to the beach. Then comes Memorial Day, and a bunch of bennies move into their summer homes and start trying to order us around.

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A Shore local clashed with a certain governor from North Jersey last year over whether a steel wall or a rock wall would best protect the beaches; after the storm last weekend stripped that steel bare, the beach ended up looking more like a junk yard than the Jersey Shore

This is particularly hard on us surfers. Once the lifeguard stands go up, it can be difficult to find a beach where surfing is not banned. When you do so, it’s usually a private beach.

My buddy Mike and I used to frequent an unguarded stretch of beach in Brick Township. We’d walk right past the “No Trespassing” signs. The members of the local homeowners association would start yelling at us in those grating North Jersey accents.

“Hey soifah! You can’t walk tru dere,” they’d yell. “This is a private beach!”

We’d keep walking. It may be a private beach. But it’s not a private ocean. That’s been true since the time of the Roman Emperor Justinian, who decreed that all citizens can have access to tidal waters.

It remains a mystery to those summer people, however. I went by that stretch of beach the other day and saw signs at the beach entrances that read, “Private Property, No Trespassing.”

I walked up to the beach. There I saw something that should cause our legislators to finally get out their history books and law books. That was the massive sand-replenishment project done in the wake of Hurricane Sandy by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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