Tuesday, April 08, 2008

No Mo' Condos, Please

This time I’m going to come out and say I’m against any more condos on South Padre Island, plain and simple. Sure I know many will happen but I hate the new ones and hate the prospect of many more of them. Condos will be the ruination of the island and I’m dead set against any more being built.

It is time to call a spade a spade and say “no more condo-hotels.” The ones we have are just fine, but there comes a point where we just have too many people in a small part of a skinny sandbar. Sustainable communities have some high-density areas like downtown but we’ve taken it to a trashy extreme already here on the island, which as many as twenty more on the books in various stages of planning: all this for the benefit of a very few and a nice traffic jam on the peak days. It’s not sustainable and flies in the face of what is called “carrying capacity.”

There is plenty of land up north although for the foreseeable future all that traffic will be coming straight through town. This is nearing a recipe for disaster, should one ever occur. But beyond that there is the larger question of what all these people are going to do when they arrive on SPI. There’s only so much beach – indeed sometimes three rows of umbrellas deep – and bay access it at its lowest point since the island was first built up in the 70’s. There’s less beach as well because of high erosion rates. It seems more like the case that many transient people visit SPI on short stays, contribute to vehicle congestion, and then leave tons of trash behind.

Many resort areas are starting to become alarmed at the sheer numbers of people on their small islands, and have decided to place severe restrictions on multi-family housing. Some have sued to keep ferries and cruise ships from visiting their island or coastal community. Many tell of stories where the crowds grew rowdy and drunk and, lacking any public restrooms, urinated all over the place. It will be like spring break all summer if we keep going the way we are.

Not many people want to confess that condos are hurting the island and bad for the local economy. It is a very bold, unfavorable position, since a property owner in Texas should be able to build whatever they want to build – the reason why it’s such a complete and utter mess today. But I have the courage to come out and say no more condos. No, I’m not the first to say that, as the novelist John MacDonald said that back in 1971. To hell with any new condos, I say.

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