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Tom Brady and the Public Trust Doctrine

April 9, 2020

I, like many in Tampa Bay, am excited to welcome Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen into town.  Go Bucs!

Tom Brady has moved into a waterfront house on Davis Islands belonging to Derek Jeter.  In an interview with Howard Stern, Tom Brady revealed that he had one problem with the house.  Boats can drive right up to the back of the house.

For those who don’t know, Davis Islands are two islands in Old Tampa Bay right outside downtown Tampa.  The house Tom Brady is using, referred to colloquially as “St. Jetersburg,” is a mansion right on the bay looking towards Bayshore.  The house is easily accessible by boat and its size makes it easy to identify.

So, does the public have the right to use the water right outside the house?  Yes they do.

The Public Trust Doctrine provides that lands under navigable rivers, lakes, and tidelands are held in public trust.  The land under the water cannot be sold to any private person or entity. You can buy a beach but you can’t buy a piece of the ocean.  You cannot buy anything up to the high water line. Furthermore, the public has the right to use the water even if it’s right outside your property.

The Public Trust Doctrine was originally established by courts stretching back thousands of years.  However, in Florida it has been made part of the constitution. Art. X, Section 11. The public has the right to make all lawful use of the navigable water and land up to the high water marks.

Sorry Tom.