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The Chron on Prop 9

Proposition 9 on the ballot would make Texas’ Open Beaches Act of 1959 and add it to the state constitution. This Chron story is an overview of it.

“People who use the beach think of it as a public park,” said Ellis Pickett of the Texas Surfrider Foundation, which is campaigning in favor of the proposition. “That’s why this is so important. It ensures that the coast of Texas will be a public park forever.”

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, whose office regulates beach access and other land issues, also is in favor of the ballot measure.

“Our freedom to walk on any beach we choose is unique – and under threat,” he wrote in an opinion piece sent to newspapers throughout the state. “Developers, overpaid lawyers and even the members of the Legislature fail to appreciate this freedom.”

You can read Patterson’s piece here, which I mentioned on October 13. Patterson also included an anti-Prop 9 article when he sent out his op-ed, which you can read here. The crux of the opposition is this:

While houses and hotels have sprouted along the Gulf of Mexico, rising seas, sinking land and storms have led to the rapid erosion of Texas coastline. By some estimates, as much as 10 feet washes away each year.

That means some houses, once hundreds of feet from the surf, now are in the public right of way. And the state has ordered their removal, prompting two legal cases challenging to the Open Beaches Act, including one to be heard by the Texas Supreme Court next month.

Brooks Porter, one of the plaintiffs, claims the state took his Surfside Beach property without paying fair-market value after Tropical Storm Frances in 1998 moved the vegetation line .

I suppose I see it as Patterson does, that this is nature and not the state of Texas that’s taking their property. I’ll be interested to see what the state Supreme Court makes of this. I presume that if Prop 9 passes, there can be no more lawsuits of this kind.

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