Another setback for open beaches

At this rate, the concept of “open beaches” is on its way to becoming an anachronism.

The Texas Supreme Court dealt another blow Friday to the Texas Open Beaches Act in a case pitting beachfront property owners against the city of Surfside.

The court overturned an appeals court ruling upholding Surfside’s refusal to permit repairs or extend utilities to houses that the Texas General Land Office determined were in the public right-of-way as a result of beach erosion. It asked the lower court to reconsider its decision in light of the state Supreme Court ruling last year in the Severance case, which weakened the Open Beaches Act.

Angela Brannan and 12 other beachfront home-owners had argued that efforts to force them to remove their houses from the public right-of-way amounted to an unconstitutional taking of their property.

Voting to overturn the appeals court decision siding with the city were justices Nathan L. Hecht, Paul W. Green, Phil Johnson, Don R. Willett, Eva Guzman and John Phillip Devine. Not participating were justices Debra Lehr-mann, Jeffrey S. Boyd and Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson.

One bad ruling leads to another. Where will it end?

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2 Responses to Another setback for open beaches

  1. Brad M. says:

    Sometimes I just can’t say I am proud of our state.

  2. mollusk says:

    It’s only going to end with a different composition of the court. I’m still a bit amazed at the Severance ruling – I’ve read it a couple times, and it goes against every understanding I had of what happens when you have property next to big natural water (with its inherently mobile shorelines) going back to ancient British cases I haven’t read since law school, and the 400 years of jurisprudence since then. (no, I didn’t have to wear a powdered wig and a black or red dress in law school) On top of that, Severance seems to be a bit of a carpetbagger case – the sort that often gets a reaction of “leave our law alone” and rulings engineered to be quiet and not particularly authoritative if there’s a particular odd result that’s desired for some political or philosophical reason. The somewhat reassuring thing is that the Texas Supreme Court isn’t nearly as adverse to reversing itself as their brethren in Washington.

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