Beach tents

Turtle Island Restoration Network volunteers found more than 250 tents left out overnight while walking the beaches on July 5, 2018.


Everyone wants a prime spot along the beach, but what’s the proper way to secure it?

Leaving tents or umbrellas staked out overnight isn't the answer, residents and officials say.

On Thursday, volunteers with the Turtle Island Restoration Network counted 253 unaccompanied tents and umbrellas between the Galveston Island State Park and the San Luis Pass, Executive Director Joanie Steinhaus said.

Each morning, volunteers from the group walk the beach combing the dunes and grounds for stranded sea turtles. They also take note of the trash, umbrellas and tents left out overnight. Tents were out Friday and Saturday morning, too, Steinhaus said.

The tents and umbrellas left overnight are a nuisance to crews cleaning the beaches, namely the Park Board of Trustees, and can end up blowing into the Gulf of Mexico and creating litter in the water and dunes, Councilman Craig Brown said.

“Sometimes, the tide washes them out or the wind knocks them over and blows them around,” Brown said. “It also prevents good beach cleaning.”

Brown researched different ordinances aimed at addressing the issue, including local rules in Florida, where people have to keep tents off the beach from midnight to 6 a.m., he said. There also are signs in those areas instructing people not to leave items behind overnight, he said.

As it is, beach-cleaning crews from the park board don’t remove canopies or tents they come across, Brown said. The city also doesn’t post signs informing people it’s illegal to leave tents out overnight, he said.

Brown and Councilwoman Jackie Cole could soon bring some ordinance proposals before the city council to discuss in workshop, he said. The city would likely need to pass an ordinance that could include posting signs or making it a violation for beachgoers to leave anything out overnight, Brown said.

The ordinance, though, would probably be managed and enforced by the park board, which oversees beaches, he said. But the city council would need to get feedback about how to write an ordinance that wouldn’t negatively affect anglers who fish off the jetty or beaches overnight, Brown said.

Cole supported Brown’s idea to consider ordinances relating to the issue, she said.

“It is an issue that we need to be looking at,” Cole said. “It makes it hard to clean the beach and hard to know which one is abandoned and which one is not.

“And if people leave them up, and we have a storm, half of those things are going to blow into the Gulf or the dunes where someone else has to clean them up.”

Rules barring people from leaving things out overnight might not solve the entire problem but could help, Cole said.

“It’s great people have tents,” Cole said. “We don’t need any more skin cancer and, as a vet, I’m happy if they have it for their dogs. But they don’t need to be left out when people aren’t using them.”

Marissa Barnett: 409-683-5257;


Senior Reporter

(9) comments

Ron Shelby

I’d want to see an ordinance that considers it “litter”, immediately removable and appropriately fined if the owner can be identified.

David Doe

Unfortunately this speaks Volumes about the people that come to the beach. I think you should start charging people to enter the beach and use the money to clean=up after the Trash that visits!

Clinton Little

There appears to be reluctance to address the reason for the over night leaving of the tents and tent frames is the next days ready to use. The tent problem is that of the private beach owners house keeping and not of the publics

Rusty Schroeder

Exactly, the supposedly public beaches :) :) :)

George Croix

When you take your trash cans, or bags, or your unwanted junk and pile it on the public right of way it becomes public property, and anyone including the trash pickup wanting to take it can do so.
Treat the stuff left unattended on the beaches like any other trash. Haul it off.

Byron Barksdale

People who "reserve" prime spots with overnight tents on the beach are the same types as people who put their towels and clothes on prime chairs at resort swimming pools at the crack of dawn, then go to breakfast and show up hours later to claim their real estate. Unattended tents should be "towed" and the owners can reclaim their tents after paying an appropriate "towing fee" Make Galveston Beaches Great Again!

Steve Fouga

I had no idea it was legal to leave tents on the beach at night. I assumed all along that people were simply violating a law that wasn't being enforced. I'm also shocked that the tents are not being stolen in such numbers as to deter the practice. I don't know whether to to be pleased or dismayed. [unsure]

Ron Binkley

One of my favorite pastimes is sitting on my deck and watching the tents blow down the beach!

Don Schlessinger

Why not use the same parking rules as are allowed for automobiles along the seawall? Just keep it simple.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.