Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Surfers sending out S.O.B. signal

S.O.B. means Save Our Beaches.

It's cool when the surfers get their political juices flowing. I get this mental image of deeply tanned guys and gals in shades, outfitted in their jams and bikinis and wetsuits, zinc oxide on their noses, raising their fists in anger, holding signs, testifying before legislative committees, and grumbling, "This will not stand, dude."

Hey, it keeps them off the streets.

I kid because I care. And they care, too. Somebody's gotta care!

Of course, we're talking about the Texas Open Beaches Act, which is what we're always talking about after storms wipe out large sections of sand on the Texas coast, leaving homes on the public easement, where they almost always remain, as if the magic "vegetation line" will somehow re-appear in a year or two to place the homes back on "private property."

Haven't been any storms lately, but bills authored by State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, who's usually carrying water for the petrochemical industry, and state Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, have the equivalent effect.

The surfers, acting through their Texas Surfrider chapters, say the measures will compromise the Texas Open Beaches Act, set a bad precedent and lead to "private beaches."

The two lawmakers (Janek replaced the once-mighty Buster Brown of Lake Jackson) want to amend the state Natural Resources Code for the municipal utility district at Treasure Island, a beach subdivision in Brazoria County located on the eastern tip of Follett's Island, at San Luis Pass.

That's prime fishing area, but not much use to surfers, from what I can gather. But all the beach is sacred and belongs to the public, theoretically.

Babe Schwartz, the old liberal war horse ex-state senator from Galveston who authored the original Open Beaches Act, has spoken against the measure, and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who's shown no inclination to take a hard line on open beach issues, has spoken in favor of it.

The surfers are worried enough that they're sending out a Mayday call:

The (Treasure Island) Municipal Utility District and residents
have continually violated the OBA (Open Beaches Act) by prohibiting public parking in the
subdivision, giving them a private beach.

Visitors are met with signs stating "tenant and permit parking only -
all others will be towed" and "no vehicular beach access" at the
subdivision entrance.

They have also dumped rocks, concrete, and VW-sized boulders along the
shore in a vain attempt to stop erosion.

Their "engineering" has been ill-conceived, and much of it has left
dangerous debris on what is supposed to be public beach.
Beyond that, their actions have actually increased the erosion rate of
"their" beach. Experts agree that the "hard structures" they placed in
daily contact with waves increases the rate of erosion.

Ellis Pickett of Texas Surfriders is trying to rally folks to call their legislators to vote the down the bill. (see first link below)

If you want to join hands with the surfers, read the link and take action. If not, return to your regularly scheduled programming.


1 comment:

Kevin said...

Pickett and crew have lots of facts on their side, but unfortunately they don't have tons of money like certain folks who want (illegal) private beach properties and have been determined to rewrite open beaches laws for a long time.

As "facts" go, this is some pretty convincing stuff from the local Surfriders:

We can all debate whether Texas should or should not have "private" beaches, but the fact is, we've long embraced open, public beaches and enshrined them into law. Clearly, the Treasure Island folks think differently.