Y ou could raise some questions about how well the city of Galveston has delivered on promises it made to voters who in 2011 approved a plan to charge for parking along the seawall.

And those questions are likely to become more frequently asked as we approach July 2020, when voters may be asked to decide whether to allow the program to continue or allow it to end under a sunset provision.

It would be reasonable to ask, for example, whether the city councils empaneled and the city administrations at work in the years since that 2011 referendum have done a good job delivering the improvements voters expected when they supported the ballot proposition.

About six years have passed since that vote and the city is just now making substantial progress toward getting the improvements — installing public restrooms, pedestrian lighting and bus stops — done.

Some islanders would argue that was too long and the proof the city didn’t do a very good job managing the program.

District 2 Councilman Craig Brown alluded to that dissatisfaction this week when he told a Daily News reporter he had doubts about how another referendum might go.

“I’m not sure if it goes back to voters that it would pass again,” Brown said.

We have no doubt there is dissatisfaction among voters about the seawall parking program, but argue it’s beside the point.

There’s only one relevant question about seawall parking fees for island taxpayers, however, and it has nothing much to do with how well the city got the program up and running.

The question is this: Do you want to make yourselves exclusively responsible for covering the maintenance costs of the improvements, which, late or not, do now exist?

If not, if you’d rather tourists cover some of the costs, you’re pretty much obliged to support continuing the parking fee program.

• Michael A Smith

San Luis Pass Bridge bid now with less pork?

Earlier this week, we argued that including a request for $135 million in federal hurricane relief money to replace the San Luis Pass Bridge looked a lot like old-fashioned pork barrel government spending.

What, we asked, did replacing a bridge connecting Galveston’s West End to the mainland have to with hurricane mitigation?

Later in the week, County Commissioner Ken Clark explained the plan envisioned incorporating the bridge into the western end of a larger storm surge barrier. The $135 million would pay to build jetties out into the pass, a bridge between the jetties and some sort of floodgates that could be closed during storms.

Fair enough. We’ll admit funding for the bridge looks a lot less out of place in that context than it had before. We can’t go so far as to say including the bridge was appropriate, however.

At $135 million, the project still left a large footprint on the county’s request and added another $135 million to a $12 billion request for storm barriers.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

(13) comments

Susan Fennewald

The question concerning seawall parking fees - do you want to have to pay to park at your biggest park? Galveston has a very very very tiny amount of free parkland. You have to pay to go to the beach parks, and pay to go to Seawolf park and pay to go to the state park. Galveston relies on the beach for its "open space".

The question is : should I have to pay to go to my city park?

So far, the city hasn't used any parking money for improvements. NONE. ZILCH. They used other money for the improvements. Maybe voters will vote for it, or maybe not., but they shouldn't be misled into believing that the improvements were paid for by the parking fees.

Christopher Fluke

I don't know where you live, but I walk from my house to our biggest park, and I live in the middle of the widest part of the island. Anyone living on the Island can walk to the biggest park if you want to, or couple of blocks off seawall. Also, for $25 a year, you have unlimited parking on the seawall, so as a resident, why wouldn't you do this if you don't want to walk? The tourists that come here leave trash and clog the streets, many bring their own food and fill up with gas before coming to the island. The cost of parking is minimal and any revenue does help, regardless of if the money is used for improvements or just upkeep. Did adding a parking fee decrease other revenue to the City? I doubt it. As long as the revenue is spent for things on the island, such as employee's pay, trash pickup, improvements, or whatever, I'll be voting to keep it.

Curtiss Brown

Very sensible. And I agree with Steve Fouga as well. The current fee is too small. I'd like to see a higher rate that includes parking downtown as well. Today, we pay $25 a year to park on the seawall anywhere, at any time, and then move to another space if we wish. I'd do another $25 annually to include parking downtown and not have to worry about it. The tourists should pay more on a day-trip but be given access to downtown parking as well.

Randy Chapman

That's a great idea. As long as Galveston doesn't receive any monies from the State to help with beaches. No problem at all with that. But, if Galveston receives money from the state to help maintain the beaches and access to them, then the State should, and has the responsibility to set what fees Galveston can charge.

Christopher Fluke

It's not all about the beaches, it's about the road, the police, etc. I'd be for having a toll road onto Galveston Island, with free tolls for residents. If you want to get to the beaches, take a boat.

Randy Chapman

"Christopher Fluke Nov 11, 2017 10:06am writes:
It's not all about the beaches, it's about the road, the police, etc. I'd be for having a toll road onto Galveston Island, with free tolls for residents. If you want to get to the beaches, take a boat."

So, you don't understand that Galvatraz does benefit from money spent on hotels restaurants and the like? That's where money for the police comes from. The road is paid for by the state.

Christopher Fluke

If you are staying at the Galvatraz, you have parking at the Galvatraz, so don't need to park on the seawall.

The roads in Galveston are paid by the residents through property taxes and part of the sales tax, not by the state. I-45, the ferry and San Louise pass are a few exceptions but most roads in Galveston are paid for by the City.

The seawall was paid for by the County and not the state. Bonds were raised after the 1900 storm to build it. Thought the seawall is considered a park, it is not a State park, and is governed by the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, who is part of the City and not the State.

I-45 is owned and maintained by the state up to about 59th street, but Broadway, 61st, etc. to get to the beaches is paid for by Galveston. If any of the streets are State streets, we would be seeing TxDot vehicles instead of City vehicles to maintain them.

Texas doesn't have an income tax and gets it's income mostly from a 6.25% sales tax. Municipalities, can add to that for income. The City of Galveston adds 2%, which is why we have an 8.25% sales tax here. That 2%, that is spent here, goes to the City of Galveston, but isn't the state paying for the roads, the state just manages the payments to the City of that 2%. Additionally, our Property taxes pay for a lot of the roads. This tax is collected by the County but directed to the taxing authorities, including the City of Galveston. Galveston citizens have had bond votes to raise money specifically to pay for roads and upkeep of roads on the Island. We have to pay those back by increased taxes on our property taxes, which only residents of the City of Galveston pay for. This isn't money the State gives us.

So, you have said the "road" is "paid" for the state, which road are you talking about, as almost all roads are paid by the local governments and not by the state.

Christopher Fluke

FM3005 is more than Seawall Blvd and more than the actual Seawall (which is the portion I am referring to). According to what I can find, the state portion stops at 61st street and is maintained by the county and not the state. So you are correct about most of FM3005, the portion that has paid parking mostly is the county and city, as that is mostly east of 61st. It appears that 61st does have some State funding, but if you look at the official state map on , everything east of 61st is not state roads until the ferry. Technically we are both correct and there actually is a ton of free parking down FM3005. I didn't realize that west of 61st was maintained by the state but after looking into it, it appears that you are correct from 61st to San Louise pass but that from SH87 (Ferry) to 61st, it isn't paid for by the state. The Seawall (not the road) is a park, which if it was a State park, you'd have to pay a fee to go in, much like the State park down FM3005, so why not have a fee for the Seawall park, especially between SH87 and 61st? Regardless, it'll be up to the voters and legislators. I'll be voting to keep it and maybe you should contact the state about west of 61st street, because on your point, I agree, if the state pays for the road and upkeep, it's a valid point to consider.

Randy Chapman

Christopher Fluke Nov 12, 2017 1:21pm wrote:

"So, you have said the "road" is "paid" for the state, which road are you talking about, as almost all roads are paid by the local governments and not by the state."

I am talking about FM3005, aka Seawall Blvd. It is in fact a state highway, that is paid for with state dollars. Sure the city of Galvatraz administers some of the money, but most comes from the state. Just because you don't see TXDOT vehicles does not mean it's not a state funded road.

Steve Fouga

I'll vote to continue paid parking. I'd vote to triple the fee, if the State would allow it.

Mark Aaron

Steve: [I'll vote to continue paid parking. I'd vote to triple the fee, if the State would allow it.]


Steve Fouga

Mark, I think the privilege of parking near a beach is worth more than we charge, and I think people would pay a higher fee. I'd like to see more money flowing into the City's coffers. I would gladly pay a $75 annual fee rather than the $25 I currently pay, and I'm not wealthy.

This is assuming, of course, that the money would be well spent on beach amenities and maintenance.

Mark Aaron

Steve: [ I think the privilege of parking near a beach is worth more than we charge, and I think people would pay a higher fee. ]

That's a pretty good reason.

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