Winner of the award for most outrageous action of 2013 is the promotion of House Bill 1560 at the last Texas legislative session.
Heber Taylor continues to run his blog about the bill and describes how it might have changed current dune regulations.
Taylor casually asks if City Council knew this bill was being introduced and defended by Councilmember Marie Robb.
HB 1560 puts into law the building a 12- to 14-foot wall from the seawall’s end to San Luis Pass, plus enabling rules.
Taylor’s blog is correct, but does not come close to the mayhem behind the bill.
The bill was introduced by State Sen. Larry Taylor and initially supported by State Rep. Craig Eiland.
I’m not sure if these fine people understood the motive of the bill or were duped like the rest of us.
The bill was promoted to the Senate as a first major step in building the Ike Dike.
I don’t know how well you’re informed on the dike, but only last year our city gave Texas A&M University $250,000 to start testing the concept.
Translated, we’re a few years away from money, permits and construction.
Even if the science was complete, Austin would have to decide if the dike should be built on FM 3005 or where HB 1560 said it must be built — in front of beach property owners’ homes.
The bill, if passed, would have the wall built as protection for beach property even if building it on FM 3005, landward of the homes, would save a couple of hundred million.
HB 1560 also says that the state of Texas would enter into agreements with beach property owners for land use or lease since they now own the beach.
Under the guise of the Ike Dike, this bill would have put one very large nail into the coffin of public beaches.
If the beach is privately owned like Severance declared, the new owners have a huge insurance price tag to ensure against a lawsuit should a beach user get hurt while on their property.
HB 1560 was the cure for that ill, also. It says that you and I, as beach users, would have the same legal standing as any “trespasser” does under Texas law.
The bill uses the word trespasser to define you and me and would have eliminated any liability for damage claims facing a property owner.
When asked by the subcommittee who would pay to build and maintain this 14-foot high wall decoratively covered by sand and plants, Councilmember Robb replied, “The city of Galveston and the county.”
The impact on our taxes, street repairs and general maintenance would be devastating to most of us, but the value of beach-front homes would skyrocket.
No one on council knew about the bill. The West Galveston Island Property Owners Association and The Pirates Property Owners Association knew exactly what the bill did. Both groups endorsed HB 1560.
HB 1560 was corrupt legislation.
Introduced as an Ike Dike issue years before it’s needed, HB 1560 actually supported other self-serving issues.
I’m left wondering how Dr. Bill Merrell must feel about his concept being used as a ploy.
Folks, we have to stop electing people who would do things like HB 1560. Start voting for integrity in public service.
Bill Broussard lives in Galveston.