One of the questions the Galveston City Council should resolve about its program to charge for parking on the seawall is whether the state thinks it meets the requirements of the law.

When the previous council was preparing to put the parking fee to a vote of the people, Steve LeBlanc, who was then the city manager, reminded the council that it would have to amend its beach access plan to include 30 minutes of free parking on the north side of the seawall and $1 an hour thereafter. Wendy O’Donohoe, who was then planning director, made the same point repeatedly.

The beach access plan also requires a minimum of 10 percent of the parking spaces — about 230 — to be free. Those spaces also had to be distributed throughout Galveston’s long, skinny “urban park.” They could not be grouped in one spot — let’s say west of 61st Street, where there’s not much but rip rap below the seawall.

Generally, when such changes are proposed, the Texas General Land Office approves them only if they promote better access for the public.

The key idea is that the changes have to be easier and more convenient for the public, not easier and more convenient for the city.

The city has to file a beach access plan because the beaches belong to the public. That means all Texans, not just the residents of Galveston. The city relies on the state to funnel a lot of public money back to the island to clean, patrol and rebuild the beaches. If the state finds that the city is not acting to ensure the public has access to its beaches, it’s a problem.

Amendments to the beach access plan take time — and they usually require public hearings, both at the city and state level.

Has any of that been done? Has the city really amended that plan to include 30 minutes of free parking on the north side of the seawall? Has it really scattered free sites throughout the length of the seawall?

We don’t think that’s happened. And, when we’ve brought up problems with the parking plan before, the City Council has brushed them aside.

We still contend that the main problem with the existing plan is that its expenses are so staggering there isn’t much money left to pay for amenities, such was restrooms, drinking fountains and showers.

We haven’t heard a convincing explanation of how that problem is going to be fixed. And we don’t know how the city plans to square its parking plan with its beach access plan.

The Daily News is filing a request under the Texas Public Information Act for any records that would show that the Texas General Land Office approved changes to the city’s beach access plan.

If the state agency didn’t, it would be best to know it now, before tourist season gets up to full speed.

Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News.

(11) comments

Robert Young

The city wants it all but claims Seawall Blvd is a county road when it comes to paving it..County needs to claim some of the revenue from the parking meters on it's road then. JUDGE Henry should a figured that out..Yarborough would have caught it...

Carlos Ponce

Maintaining the Seawall is the responsibility of the County. Maintaining Seawall Blvd is the responsibility of the city. The city of Galveston asked their tax payers to approve the parking meters. We who live in the County but not in the city of Galveston were never polled. If the county was responsible for maintaining the Blvd then the entire county would have voted on the measure. Since it is a city maintained road, only the CITY voters were asked.

Raymond Lewis

It seems both 'justaman' and 'carlosponce' missed the point of the article. The issue is beach access and use of beach user fees, which the parking plan is attempting (and not very well ) to utilize. The city is getting closer and closer to botching this even more than it has already.

Carlos Ponce

I knew it off the topic but justaman was just looking for a forum to hang this on Judge Henry and I hate when misinformation is spread. It is the City of Galveston's responsibility to maintain the Boulevard, not Galveston County. If the county wants to help, fine but be warned: once you feed a stray animal they'll come back for more!

Steve Fouga

carlos, the cat is out of the bag. The County has already paid for paving in the past...

Mary Branum

Last I walked on the beach, it was free! There are no "toll booths" at the steps or rock groins.
I have no problem paying for parking on seawall.
I recall Mustang Island charging to drive on the beach (only available access)

What is it that everyone wants everything, but not pay for it?

I wish we could charge a toll to come over the causeway.

It costs to maintain everything. Where the H#(@) do you expect the funds to come from?

Gary Miller

When will county voters get to vote on sea wall parking?
If the county maintains the road county voters should have as much say about the road as county voters who live on the Island.
Before the county spends a penny on Sea Wall dr. Judge Henrey should require a vote by county residents approving or rejecting paid parking on a county maintained road.
The election approving paid parking should be declared mute and void because only county residents living on the Island were permited to vote.

Is Sea Wall dr a City street or a County road?
If it's a City Street the City should take care of it.
If it's a county road it's use and maintanence should be controlled by county voters.

Robert Buckner

Hey island resident, when you build and maintain the causeway then you can install a toll booth. Its time to quit your whining about Galveston's problems being blamed on mainland residents that work and visit the island. Maybe tool booths should be installed during hurricane evacuations. Think about it. Taxpayers everywhere paid for that causeway. The bridge goes both directions.

Mary Branum

Where do you get that I am whining about mainland residents and visitors?
All are welcome. Where would the island be without them?

Residents on this island need to clean up their own places and quit having their hands out for freebies.
The comment about a toll booth was tongue in cheek - lighten up!

Many coastal towns have bridge access where tolls are charged.
Perhaps you need to travel more to see how the rest of the country and world creates revenue.

Steve Fouga

IHOG and carlosponce -- You're making statements about Seawall Blvd as if they're fact. Do you mean them as fact, or how you think it should be?

As I understand it, maintenance of Seawall Boulevard has been paid for in the past jointly by the City and County. I think I've read that in this newspaper; correct me if I'm wrong. I guess it's done that way by custom; I don't think it's by law since I believe it's up to the County Judge (or presumably his staff) to decide who is responsible for maintaining roads that run through the county, that aren't maintained by TxDOT or the Federal Govt. I'm surmising this because I couldn't find a website that explained it clearly enough.

I did find a website stating that FM 3005 (actually UR 3005) runs from San Luis Pass to 61st Street, and that east of 61st the street is Seawall Boulevard (and not FM 3005). If this is true, that seems like a logical point to discontinue County maintenance.

Robert Young

You want the gravy but not the grief?,, You want the county taxpayer to pay for paving to your city meters?.. without any consideration for the county?. Unless you have a boat everyone that gets to the island is traveling on county or state roads that in fairness taxpayers on the island pay for too. We should not really have meters on the south side anyway.. Should be a lane for bicycles. emergency equipment. and such.. I do blame Henry for missing the point .. County pays a good sum of the paving cost and city gets all the parking revenue,You ok with that? Is it fair? I think at the very least the county should be paid back for their cost of paving seawall and l forget about the cost of maintaining the county roads just to get to the island...Carlosrponse, you don't speak for me.. I may be trying to get the Judge to think about his elected job and duty to his office and taxpayers....Instead of playing judge or marriage minister at the north county annex. Pay attention, If the judge had put as much time into negotiations with the city on the paving as he and mini me (Dennard) did with GDN the county would have got a better deal. We have four more years of his management style.. His budget shell game to claim tax savings for reelection will have to be reconciled one day.. can the county make it till 2019? we'll see.

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