Your Favorite Texas Beaches Could Be Private Property Soon
Spring break is upon us. The summer vacation season is just around the corner.
Nothing is more fun than loading the family in the car for the relatively short drive to the beaches of Texas. North Padre and South Padre Island and the beaches of Galveston have brought joy and repose to generations of Texans.
We are lucky here in Texas. The 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act and hundreds of years of common law and tradition have meant that Texas beaches are open for all of us to enjoy.
In 2009 Texans voted by a 77% to 23% margin to enshrine the Open Beaches Act into the Texas Constitution. Unfortunately, as we have seen repeatedly, the selfish interests of politicians in our state often collide with what the people want.
This year, State Senator Mayes Middleton of Galveston has introduced Senate Bill 434. This bill would allow greedy beachfront property owners the right to define the boundaries of public beaches in Texas, instead of the Texas General Land Office.
This means property owners could slap a "no trespassing" sign on their favorite Texas beaches. A property owner could limit access to what is known as the "wet beach," the area between high and low tides. That means during periods of high tide, this bill would result in no beach for Texas families to enjoy.
No one wants to have to take their lawyer to the beach. If Senate Bill 434 passes, you might only get access to your favorite beach if you sue the adjacent property owner.
In New England states where this is allowed, there are many beaches the public can't enjoy. In fact, the majority of beaches are privately owned.
The ironic thing about allowing greedy rich people to OWN the beach is that they cry to taxpayers whenever they need expensive restoration efforts to preserve their beach.
As scary as this proposed law is to me, what is scarier is that Texas voters are often willing to vote for people like the State Senator who proposed this law. It could not be clearer who this senator is dedicated to representing. It is not the people of his district, it is the wealthy landowners of his district.
Hasn't our government on all levels given enough to the rich and privileged in our society? Is it now necessary for them to give them one of the last bastions of joy all Texas families can enjoy in our state, a day at the beach?
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