(21) comments Back to story

Kelly Naschke

This column omits the single most obvious factor in the growth equation. Land. Developable land. Where in Galveston would you propose that the developers build reasonably priced, cookie cutter subdivisions?

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Michael A. Smith

How can land be biggest the problem? Anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 more people have lived here in the past. Seems pretty obvious that there's enough land for at least that many more people.

Bailey Jones

Down from 67,000 in the 1960s. Interesting that the population only fell 2% in the decade after the 1900 storm, but fell by double digits in the decade after Ike. I think the untold story here is that there is a wealth of affordable aging and abandoned housing stock here, just waiting for a new generation to step up and restore it. Maybe the exposure the city is getting on real estate TV shows will help bring about a Renaissance.

Susan Fennewald

I agree with Kelly - the island is already as built up as it should be (perhaps MORE than it should be). In addition, a tremendous number of houses are vacation homes, or short term rentals and not full-time residences. Over the years the number of housing units on Galveston has gone up - but the number occupied full-time has not. In addition, I know that the change in the census data from 2000 to 2010 showed that households became smaller - houses with children were replaced by single people and retirees.
So, is this a problem? Why?

Mary Branum

The issue of housing has little to do with vacation rentals, which represent less than 5% of total product.. One should look at the slumlords who retain properties, but do not maintain. There are 11 vacant properties within 1 block of our home. These have been vacant for over 15 years with zero maintenance and refusal to sell. With approximately 7,000 vacant properties on the island, one should ask why?
The cost of insurance and taxes are a major contributing factor to the overall cost of properties. For rental property, these costs need to be covered by income; no one operates at a loss. Many landlords cover these costs by not performing basic maintenance.
In regard of households; island jobs are limited due to the fact - this is an island. No one wants to drive 30 to 50 miles twice a day to work and corporations operate in areas where there is a large professional work force available.

Ron Shelby

Check into whether those properties are held by charitable trusts. There are a lot of properties on the island,....on broadway,...that are not on the tax roles. It’s difficult to get them fixed up, or occupied, if there is no financial incentive to do so (like taxes or fines).

Susan Fennewald

Perhaps it would help if the city treated its residents better - like giving us free access to Seawolf jpark! We have few parks. League city actually has plans about expanding and improving their parks. Galveston hasn't ever (?) expanded its parks. And most of our parks are beach parks and fees must be required of residents if we're going to charge visitors. That's not true of Seawolf park. If I lived in Texas city, I could go fishing on the TC dike for free. But it costs me $12 to go fishing at Seawolf park.
Galveston could start by making Seawolf park free for residents (if they really care about the residents).

Don Schlessinger

You got it right SF, residents are at the bottom of any list on the island except the one at the tax office. Our city fails to address any problem unless it's tourist oriented. Infrastructure that helps island residents is pushed to the back of the line in all cases. My pet peeve is the unaddressed automobile destroying east end of Ave P. I was told by our city manager, in October of last year P would be repaired in February, but nothing has happened. Why? Tourists don't use Ave P except by accident. Galveston is a bad financial investment for people wanting to live here. I happen to be shopping for a new home, and as much as I love the island it's not cost effective if my taxes aren't spent on taking care of me and other islanders, it's not. I'm looking off island these days for my next property.

Rusty Schroeder

Land, they aren't making any more of it. And where the land exists to add the type of housing that could increase the population, the surrounding neighbors are NIMBY. Problem is, yours doesn't exist. Heck, now you have people that live in apartments joining that group. It is what it is, why mainland property values are soaring.

Jim Casey

Relatively few jobs on the Island pay well enough to own a house or rent a decent apartment here. Every morning you can see thousands of people arrive from the mainland for many of the good-paying jobs that exist. If those people and their families lived here, they might add 50% to the population.

But few people are going to move to Galveston to wait tables or clean pools.

David Smith

And not one word about rapant crime

Ron Binkley

I agree with Mary. Owners need to be maintaining their properties but above that, the city needs to enforce the owners to maintain them. Fine them if they don't comply. If that doesn't work, condemn them. The entire area north of Broadway could be developed if the city would step in an enforce the maintenance opening up more land for developers.

Gary Miller

Galveston paychecks are spent on the mainland. Galveston crime affects Galveston residents more than commuters. Hiring meter maids instead of police must be part of the problem.

Steve Fouga

Limited land. Hurricanes. Housing costs. Hurricanes. High insurance costs. Hurricanes. Lack of well-paying jobs. Hurricanes. Rampant crime. Hurricanes. Poor schools. Hurricanes. Rainwater and high-tide flooding. Hurricanes. Expensive restaurants. Hurricanes. Lousy infrastructure. Hurricanes.

Mike Box

Michael why would we want to build affordable homes and beg people to move here? To sell newspapers? I'm not concerned about those who live elsewhere and might be enticed to come here. I'm concerned with my city. Why is Galveston more expensive than living on the mainland? Prices don't go up if nobody can afford to buy the houses. Prices are what the market will bear, not what someone would like them to be. Maybe the market is different here. We're not commuters. We're retirees, weekenders, telecommuters, local business owners who can afford to live here, and this is one of the cheapest beach communities in the country. Let the rest of Texas "grow, grow, grow" while we serve as their vacation spot. We can continue to enjoy the restaurants and festivals and when they go home we can walk on the beach alone.

Rusty Schroeder

Hey Mike, first off the man you talking about selling newspapers doesn't even live in the county. And Galveston is one of the cheapest beach communities in the country, it's also one of the trashiest with the least to offer the tourist. As far as serving as Texas vacation spot, that's the funniest thing I have heard today. It's Houston's day retreat and weekend getaway, New Braunfels and Corpus blow Galveston's tourist numbers into the sandy gulf.

michaelsmith Staff
Michael A. Smith

I have lived in Galveston for almost 20 years and I own property in Galveston.

Rusty Schroeder

Do yo live in Galveston County? Simple yes or NO.

Wayne Holt

Michael Smith lived downtown for years. I know because he lived in the building adjacent to mine. Not sure where you may have gotten that information, Rusty...

Ron Shelby

Careful, if what’s being argued in these comments is that second home owners have replaced primary residents, then promoting more primary resident ownership will result in a huge hit to city revenues. Second home owners do not get a homestead exemption, thereby paying more in taxes. If primary homeowners replace them, homestead exemptions will follow dropping city revenues. Since we have no sales tax to replace that revenue (a typical trade off), then the city’s budget will be hurting.

Michelle Aycoth

I think Galveston’s main problem is flooding.
If you do not upgrade your infrastructure to reduce flooding then you will never get permanent residents and are doomed to fail as a city.
League city and Dickinson need to learn from this lesson that started in 1900 in Galveston.
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