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Should Lawmaker Be Able To Rebuild Beach Home?

To build, or not to build? The Texas Open Beach Act says you can’t build a house too close to the beach. It wasn’t a huge problem until Hurricane Ike destroyed many homes and now some people want to rebuild and the law says they can’t. Bill Stamps reports.



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Little by little the ocean is washing away the beaches on the Gulf Coast. That means houses that were once farther away from the water are now much closer. The homes were legally built, but Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson say once they’re destroyed they can’t be rebuilt.

“A deals a deal that’s the risk you take. When you build property near the water, you take certain inherent risks. And then you can’t have it both ways when things don’t work out your way after Hurricane Ike.”

The law is called the Texas Open Beaches Act. Recently, state lawmaker Wayne Christian helped pass an amendment to the law that allows homeowners on Bolivar Peninsula to rebuild their homes. It’s controversial because Christian himself owns a home on Bolivar. Commissioner Patterson wants the governor to veto the bill. He says all Texas beaches must remain open to the public.

“You know Texas is kind of unique on that. I’ve been to other states; I’ve been to other countries where you walk down the beach and there’s a fence that says private beach. We don’t have that in Texas.”

Bill: “They shouldn’t be able to rebuild?  Why is that?”

“They should be able to rebuild, but not on a public beach”

What we’ve got here is people are allowed to build too close to the water and they think they can just walk away. Well it costs the taxpayers more money, billions of dollars.

That’s Ellis Picket a volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation, a group concerned about coastal issues.

Bill: “You don’t think they should have been there in the first place or you don’t think they should be able to rebuild.”

Ellis: “Would you build a house right here, knowing that it could wash away before the mortgage is paid and knowing you can’t buy erosion insurance? “

Bill: “I’m not a millionaire. “

Ellis: “I’m not either”

Beachfront homeowner Dick Royer says he’s been sued by the state under the open beaches act. Because of erosion his home is too close to the water.

“There’s no question about that, but if you remember in junior high school they teach you something about the fifth amendment where they can’t take your property without compensation.”

Royer says he was offered 60 thousand dollars by the state for his home. He claims it’ll take that much in legal feels just to get the money. For now, Land Commissioner Patterson is asking the governor to veto the amendment, so that no one can build on the beach.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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