Disregard for the moment any particular project proposed in Galveston. It is worth noting that statements by city staff related to beaches or adjacent public easements anywhere on Galveston Island, to the effect that “staff is unaware of any municipal purpose or contemplated municipal use” of these resources, are either hopelessly uninformed or deliberately misleading.
There are at least five public planning documents adopted by the city in which such municipal purposes and uses are explicitly contemplated. A complete inventory of the elements and proposed actions recommending municipal purposes and uses of beaches, dunes, and adjacent public easements included in those planning documents would be too long to include here.
Before taking any action supported by such an ill-considered statement, Galveston City Council members should request and review that inventory. It would necessarily include substantial portions of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, Erosion Response Plan, Beach Access Plan (i.e., Chapter 29 of the city’s Code of Ordinances), Hazard Mitigation Plan, Drainage Plan (i.e., both the 2003 Master Drainage Plan and Chapter 14 of the city’s Code of Ordinances), and Hurricane Ike Long-Term Community Recovery Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan and the current effort by a city contractor to consolidate the Beach Access and Erosion Response Plans provide an easy place to start. Potential city acquisitions of privately held beach front properties for hazard mitigation and improved public access are particularly noteworthy aspects of several of those documents, as noted in Elizabeth Beeton’s recent column (“City council should reconsider vote on Porretto Beach,” The Daily News, Jan. 23).
Despite the limited understanding or appreciation reflected in public statements from city staff members and even from planning commissioners for the current and contemplated municipal purposes and uses of beaches and adjacent public easements, those purposes and uses have been adopted and endorsed in official city planning documents many times over and should not be neglected in city council deliberations.