“Hundreds to thousands” of RVs and travel trailers across the county could put federal disaster aid money at risk, county officials said.

With that, county commissioners are looking at a way to get those who are using those vehicles and trailers as residences compliant with flood plain regulations.

At risk are millions of dollars in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Federal guidelines call for the county to set regulations for RV and travel trailers as part of the county’s flood plain regulations.

The regulations call for the trailers and RVs to be “road ready,” meaning that at any given moment they can easily and safely be moved — especially if there is an approaching storm.

“There are hundreds, likely thousands, out there that would not fit the requirements,” county engineer Mike Fitzgerald said.

That is because many people are not using their travel trailers or RVs as temporary places to stay. Instead, they are being used as permanent residences.

Which is fine, except the county now requires that the RVs or travel trailers be inspected and permitted every six months.

The owners of those vehicles are supposed to bring their RVs or trailers to the county for inspection each time the permit expires. The rules would apply only to those vehicles in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Since Hurricane Ike made landfall in 2008, the county hasn’t really enforced those regulations, County Commissioner Ryan Dennard said.

He added that the county adopted a “wait until there is a compliant” strategy because many people in unincorporated parts of the county used trailers or RVs as homes while waiting to get their houses repaired or rebuilt after the hurricane.

About six years later, the lack of enforcement is leading to problems.

A homeowners association on the Bolivar Peninsula has complained about trailers and RVs on lots in Crystal Beach. The homeowners association and residents threatened to report the county’s noncompliance to FEMA.

There also are issues in Bacliff, San Leon and Bayshore, Fitzgerald said.

So the county is looking at revising its rules.

Dennard suggested a revised plan that would allow for on-site inspections and an annual permit.

While a lot of the RVs and trailers would easily meet those requirements, many would not.

There is a $100-a-day fine for the property owner for noncompliant RVs or trailers. That is on top of what it would cost the owner to make the vehicle road ready.

That’s something County Judge Mark Henry said would be a problem for many who could not afford what could be thousands of dollars to meet the regulations.

Arlene Dickson, 60, of San Leon is one of those. She and her husband live in an older RV that she admits can’t run on its own.

“I can’t afford to live in a house or rent an apartment,” Dickson said in an emotional speech to county commissioners Thursday. “I’m the working poor. Why are you going to make me get a (permit) to live in my own home?

“Are you wanting me to live under a bridge?”

Dickson said she and her husband work at Walmart and “live day-to-day and check-to-check.”

She would not have the money to ensure her RV, which sits on a private lot, could meet the requirements. She did not say whether she owns the land where the RV is parked.

County officials confirmed she is among the hundreds who have not gotten the required permits.

Dennard suggested the county adopt revised and streamlined regulations and, starting on the Bolivar Peninsula, work across the county to see how many of the RVs and trailers meet the requirements.

County commissioners are looking to adopt new rules and to get a report from Fitzgerald within six months on progress on the peninsula.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

(12) comments


TJ you are a great reporter and I always appreciate your coverage. You didn't do enough research here. Your statement:

"A homeowners association on the Bolivar Peninsula has complained about trailers and RVs on lots in Crystal Beach. The homeowners association and residents threatened to report the county’s noncompliance to FEMA."

I'm not sure which "homeowners association” you are referring to.
As for our subdivision in Bluewater, there is no "Homeowner's association" , never has been.

There is a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) that is creating havoc in the previously peacefully subdivision. This Corporation has not publicly identified their membership.
This LLC is attempting to enforce deed restrictions from 1955. It seems these antiquated and outdated Deed restrictions have never been enforced.

This Corporation does not represent the majority of property owners in the subdivision and was formed within the last few months with a stated goal of forcing all RV's to be removed from Bluewater 1 and 2.

Please do your research into this corporation calling themselves Bluewater HOA LLC. Calling yourself an HOA does not make you an HOA; anymore than one calling oneself King makes one a King. We invite you to visit our neighborhood and get the facts on your story.

I recently received an email from Commissioner Dennard that he is indeed working on the issues for RV owners, I asked permission of Mr. Dennard to release this information. Below is a copy of the email

From: Dennard, Ryan [mailto:Ryan.Dennard@co.galveston.tx.us]
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2014 3:33 PM
To: rcluck62@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Permitting Trailers

The regulations you describe were adopted in 2002. They do require removal of the RV/trailer from the lot before inspection, in order to prove it is road worthy.
However, I called a workshop meeting of commissioner’s court, which was held yesterday, to discuss this issue. I did some research, and persuaded county engineering and legal that the county's regulations could be changed to allow more flexibility. While the RVs/trailers do have to be road worthy, I believe (and everyone finally agreed) that the regulations for implementing that can be adjusted for those vehicles that are clearly road worthy.

There was general agreement to change the floodplain regulations to eliminate the "remove and inspect" requirement, except for those vehicles that appear not to be road worthy (rusted out, etc.). I expect those changes to be prepared and adopted soon.

I sincerely thank Commissioner Dennard and all the county officials for their compassion shown for all of their constituents in addressing this issue.

TJ, I appreciate you following up on the issues pertaining to the dispute. As you have always done in seeking the truth in story, please follow-up by visiting us here in Bluewater. We will gladly share truthful information with you, how this all came about.
I urge you to follow the great reporter Paul Harvey's example and get:
"The Rest of the Story..."

J. Shaffer

Every six months seems like a lot to me..... but I have limited experience in trailer law.

The people interviewed for the story: are they Dicksons or Dickinsons?

Mike Meador

....and everybody just thought my demoncratic vote would "Change" everything. WRONG.

Gary Miller

The governments endless hunt for Other Peoples Money?
From FEMA or residents. If residents don't pay more FEMA might pay less?
My idea of good government would make life better for it's citizens.
Hundreds OR thousands of county residents could be subjected to increased costs to live in the county.


TJ Did I misread something? “wait until there is a compliant” I think you meant to say "complaint" instead of compliant in this sentence. Those two words have very different definitions and may change the tone of the quote.

Also trying not to be picky but the last sentence in your article:
County commissioners are looking to adopt new rules and to get a report from Fitzgerald within six months on progress on the peninsula. Shouldn't it be county instead of peninsula?

Shawn Pachlhofer

You got the county regulations WRONG TJ. RV owners are not required to bring their RVs to the county for inspection as stated.

They are curretnly required to:

1. Remove RV prior to 180 day permit expiration
2. Call for inspection
3. Bring RV back
4. Call for inspection
5. County issues new permit

George Croix

People trying to provide for themselves with a place to live best they can = bad.
People waiting on the government to build them 275,000 buck 'temporary' places to live = good.
What a screwed up country we've 'evolved' into...

Stephen Murphy

I love me some gub'mint. Can I have more, please?

ole dad

Sometimes I just don't understand how our government officials function. They are so much out of touch with reality it astounds me. Where do these people come from...hopefully we didn't elect them.

john brown

when will people become reliant on themselves and not on others. it does not matter what race you are; there are many families who lie about the truth just to attain welfare. I have seen so many white families in santa fe lie about the father only to have him show up on the weekend and act like he pays for the section 8 housing his three kids live in plus no utilities, mowing, food, etc. you get the picture. then he takes them over to a neighbors' yard and acts like he owns that!! the world is a pitiful place and I am sick at the attitude of the whte race.

Judy Foster

Bumpy.....I'd keep a close eye on this one. Sounds like the LLC (developer)has got Dennard in his pocket. Why would you start with Bolivar? The last time I checked Galveston County took in more than Bolivar. Dennard says the rule has been in effect since 2008. What took them so long to enforce? To answer my own question, a developer with $$$$$$.
I'll bet the developer wants the RV's gone for his development...I smell a rat...They are scaring the folks by putting a $100 a day fine on it. Some people will move, accomplishing part of what they set out to do...What about people that live on boats. No mention of that.......I smell $$$$$$$ for someone.

Miss Priss

Waiting to see if there is a compliant strategy? It takes 2 years in office for Dennard to come up with that one?

Compliance is following the spirit of the law and anyone still living in these on their property is well past the being compliant realm.

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