Recently, Heber Taylor criticized Marie Robb, District 6 council member, for speaking against House Bill 325 and House Joint Resolution 54 at the Land and Resource Management Committee Hearing in Austin (“Where does the city stand on beach access?” The Daily News, March 30).

The purported purpose of introducing this law is to keep Texas beaches open to the public.

I live on the West End of Galveston Island on the beach. Since the Severance decision, my wife and I have walked the beach frequently from the end of the seawall to almost Jamaica Beach, and we occasionally visit other beaches further west. There is no place we have observed where anyone has had any restriction to the beach or on the beach, in any way — we have pictures to prove it.

This has nothing to do with public access, but a lot to do with a land grab of property and return of the power to the Texas General Land Office, lost in the Severance decision.

I oppose House Bill 325 to amend the Open Beaches Act and I oppose Texas House Joint Resolution 54, proposing a constitutional amendment establishing the boundaries of public beaches and declaring that the state holds public beaches in trust for the use of the public because:

• I am directly affected by HB 325, which denies me equal protection, versus other Texans under the law, because after any storm causing the obliteration of the continuous vegetation line, any property up to 1,000 feet from the mean low tide (General Land Office jurisdiction), can be declared within the new vegetation line set by the General Land Office and, therefore, within the public beach and;

• As a result, HB 325 will potentially reduce my home from market value to nothing.

• The following amended Section 6 statement is required to be included in any agreement of purchase and sale, and signed off by any prospective buyer before purchase; thus, ensuring that there will be no sale if the legislation passes. “As the owner of a structure located in the public beach, you could be sued by the state of Texas and ordered to remove the structure. The costs of removing the structure from the public beach and any other economic loss incurred because of a removal order would be solely your responsibility.”

• The cost of removing the structure would not be paid for by my insurance.

• HB 325 and H JR54 remove my existing property rights protection, as set out in the Natural Resources Code sections 1 to 14 (Open Beaches Act).

• HB 325 and HJR 54 contravene the Texas Supreme Court decision of March 2012, Severance vs. Patterson, which states that the “public beach easement” can roll only as a result of natural erosion, not erosion caused by a storm. This still leaves the Open Beaches Act in effect, but the proposers of this legislation would have Texans believe otherwise.

• HB 325 and HJR 54 contravene the Constitution of the United States, specifically the Fifth Amendment, which states “nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without the due process of law; nor shall property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” and the 14th Amendment, which states “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Terry Card lives in Galveston.

(1) comment

Richard Moore

I tend to agree with this statement:
"This has nothing to do with public access, but a lot to do with a land grab of property and return of the power to the Texas General Land Office, lost in the Severance decision."

Further, I do see where changes such as this to the statute will change the basic tenants of the court decision:
1) The effects of a single storm should not change property lines, only a long-term change in geology should do this, and;
2) The case did not question the state's authority for eminent domain - it only dictates that the land owner should be fairly compensated.

The Land Office and the City need to get a grip - if changes such as the bill purports are made, this will just end up in Court again. Our (near win-less vs. the Fed) AG will spend untold of our tax dollars in court needlessly.

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