Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Vanishing Beaches"

On Saturday, July 14 a big bunch of honchos will be attending a conference forum headed by US Congressman Solomon Ortiz called “Vanishing Beaches.” This ought to be a good topic because our beaches certainly are doing that. Plus, I think Hon, Ortiz might take back some suggestions for the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans of the US House of Representatives. Anyway, the meeting is packed with some experts so be there at 11:30 a.m. at the La Quinta Inn and Suites, 7000 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island if you dare. Warning: go early because it’s a July weekend; you know the drill and security might be tight.

One of the speakers is Jody Henneke who I worked for in a previous lifetime or at least so it seems. That was when I was line staff at the, gawd this is such a brain test, Texas Air Control Board, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission which then became the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality … note that she now works for the General Land Office and I’m a consultant. The GLO hasn’t changed its name since 1836. I haven’t changed my name since 1956. It will be good to see Jody even if we had some spits and spats in the past.

I don’t know for sure, but one understated purpose for the meeting but a few months ago it was to help shake loose some federal money to help restore the beaches of lower South Padre Island. State and local funds just aren’t cutting it and we’re way out of cycle now. One minor hurricane and the beach abutting four to five BILLION dollars of property will be solid gone, except down by the jetties.

See you there?


papabeare said...

How interesting, a meeting about the beaches, being held at the one hotel voted most likely to fall into the Gulf. Couldnt be any conflict of interest there. Wonder who picked that site instead of say...the convention center. Im not saying we do nothing about the beaches. I just wonder if tax dollars are going to be spent to help mainly one or two hotels and a condo or two?? Then have we created Sand Junkies?? Always looking for another fix?? Any chance that something would be done that would help long term ?? I mean, I would even be for a good dump er here sand fix on the north end.....if....if they would back it up with some decent ideas on how to make it so we dont do this yearly!! Maybe some new man made reefs running for a mile or more?? Something partly buried offshore....maybe?? I dont know the answers. Of course, I am sure someone will want to have yet another study. Speaking of that, I would like a study to see how many studies were done in Cameron County last year and what the total cost came to. I dont know but someone told me recently that if you "Study" something and their is money left over in many cases the remaining money can be spent as the "study committee" sees fit ? Ok, now I am far afield. I have to work and cant make it to the meeting. Hope many of you can and will make a full report.

Sam said...

I have to admit that there was some politics behind having the conference at La Quinta, since it really is falling into the Gulf.

You know the deal, erosion rates get worse as you head up north from the jetties. Somewhere around Oleander in the middle of Town it is fairly neutral ... that is not gaining or losing sand too much (I vote for moderate losses). By the time you get up to the Tiki and La Quinta, erosion rates are several feet per year, and those are averages that do not account for large storms.

To know that and engineer a huge resort too close to the beach was a disaster in the making. I don't have a lot of sympathy other than it was a "brain fart" on the part of some architect and engineering companies that mislead the developer in a major way.

I think any local conch could tell you that the Island is trying to cut itself in half there. It is a major hurricane blow hole. Take a look at the maps before and after Beaulah and Allen and tell me what you see! Better yet, just drive out there and take a look. To develop right on the beach in that area is pure insanity.

Sam said...

I decided not to go the this hoo-hah today because the discussion is closed to public questioning ... and plus I'll hear about all the hand-waving anyway on the grapevine. Gone fishing!

But I did have a chance to finally talk with Charlie Brommer about beach issues. The subject of La Quinta came up and I said that project was built too close to the beach. He responded that it was permitted by the Town and reviewed by the GLO, so since they permitted it the regulators had and still have a duty to maintain the beach.

I got to thinking this morning that this was patently wrong and a false statement. State law clearly says that the State owns everything below the mean high water line. Therefore, if sections of private property becomes submerged, it automatically reverts to the State. This is why structures up by Surfside, Texas are being condemned because they were now eroded so far they were literally in the surf.

I could check the details of State Law but in general, if a structure or property is submerged more than 30-60 days under certain conditions, it must be removed from the beach. The GLO Commissioner, working with the Attorney General, can seize the land, fine the owner, and even hire a bulldozer to remove the structure ... and charge the owner as well.

Clearly, there is no requirement to restore, renourish, or otherwise maintain the beaches so as to protect private land. Arguments about "historical building lines" and all that are lost causes.