Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Beachfront Property threatened by Beach Erosion By Hugh Harvey
On Feb. 4th, 2010 the First Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas upheld the public's right to use the beach from the waterline to the line of vegetation. As seawater levels rise and hurricane intensity & number increase more beachfront homes are threatened along the Texas Gulf coast. As hurricane surge sweeps away at our beaches, the Gulf of Mexico is claiming many homes. In the state of Texas under the Texas Open Beaches Act, all beach from the waterline to the line of vegetation is open to the public. This is a great thing for beachcombers and surfers alike because they have the right to use any beach. But this could be detrimental for beachfront homeowners. In 2008 Hurricane Ike struck Galveston Island taking with it thousands of homes and pushing the line of vegetation back even further. Many of the houses along the island are now beyond the line of vegetation placing them on public beaches. Under law once this line of vegetation has moved back, any structure, house, or road that sits between the waterline and line of vegetation now belongs to the state and is ordered to be demolished. I am very sympathetic to the loss of property by anyone, and am deeply saddened by the devestation Ike has done to our beaches. But buying beachfront property is a high risk investment and many people are aware of this when purchasing homes along the coast. In Surfside Beach, down the coast from Galveston, they have already seen this problem at hand. In the past 10-15 years, about 20 or so houses have been sitting between the waterline and the vegetation line and is considered to be on public beach. But homeowners still used their houses and didn't seem to pose a problem to beachcombers. In fact the housing provided shade to sit under, and for surfers to use the balconies to check where the surf was breaking. It seemed no nuisance or hazard to the public. Under the Texas Open Beaches Act, the 13 houses that are left (the rest swept from hurricane Ike) along Surfside drive are now scheduled to be demolished along with many other houses along Galveston Island and the rest of the Texas Gulf coast. My question is, do you think that houses sitting on public beach between the waterline and line of vegetation should be demolished or allowed to stay for their owners continued use? I feel that as long as the house is in good condition and not hazardous to the public, I think people should be able to continue to own and use their house. Under the condition that, because it is on public beach, that people have the right to walk near or under the house, I have no problem with the housing being there. What do you think?