In the Texas state legislature last week, Representative Eddie Lucio III introduced a dangerous bill that would damage the sustainability of our Texas beaches and fundamentally change the purpose and intent of the Texas Open Beaches Act’s protection of the dynamic shoreline. HB 3131 is direct contradiction to the Texas General Land Office’s requirement that municipalities create and implement “Erosion Response Plans” that move development farther back from the waterline and the Public Beach in order to reduce public money expenditure on protecting such ill-advised development on Texas’ highly eroding barrier islands. HB 3131 would actually allow development that could exacerbate erosion to move seaward of previous building setbacks set forth by Texas and Cameron County and endanger the Public Beach and the public’s use of it. This would also allow for the destruction of important dune habitat that functions as a natural buffer along our Texas coastlines against rampant erosion and other coastal hazards.
Specifically, this special legislation seemingly is designed to aid a certain barrier island in Cameron County where a developer has sued the state of Texas to force the continued construction of a large retaining wall in front of a new residential development. This illegal partially constructed retaining wall, however, is set to be continued in the Dune Protection Area in contravention of County and statewide protections. The developer has been stopped in his continued construction of this retaining wall in court, and now there is a bill that would provide a loophole in the Dune Protection Act and alter the Texas Administrative Code to allow for such construction.
The Surfrider Foundation South Texas Chapter has been actively advocating against this particular revetment and the relaxing of development and building setback standards set forth by the Texas General Land Office and the 81st Texas Legislature. The Chapter sent a letter to the Cameron County Commissioners’ Court and testified in a public hearing with sworn testimony opposing a retaining wall because it could set a dangerous precedent of allowing unsafe and ill-advised coastal development that could eventually encroach on the public’s beach.
Please write your Texas legislative representatives to let them know that you oppose this special legislation. Stand up for smart coastal management and open Texas beaches!