Following the June announcement of his Plan for Texas Open Beaches, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is providing applications to owners of houses on the public beach to apply for a reimbursement of up to $40,000 to move the structures inland.
It is my duty to enforce the Texas Open Beaches Act, but it is my hope to be able to work with these property owners and avoid costly litigation, Patterson said.
The reimbursements are the first step in Patterson's Plan for Texas Open Beaches and represent the first time the state has worked to cooperate with home owners to resolve the long-standing problem of private homes on the public beach.
Id rather assist a property owner than sue one, Patterson said. But either way, Im committed to resolving this problem. Texas beaches must be open for all.
Owners of the 116 houses on the public beach were sent letters this week informing them how to apply for the expense reimbursement grants. Patterson urged the property owners to apply now for the limited money available to help them comply with the states Open Beaches Act. A total of $1.3 million is available to assist the 116 property owners. Those who do not apply by the October 2 deadline may not be eligible for future reimbursement.
I know $40,000 may not cover all the cost of moving a house, but this is just the first step, Patterson said. I will continue seeking additional funding to help these property owners get off the beach, and I pledge to find more ways to work with those who are willing to do what is required.
Pattersons Plan For Texas Open Beaches presents eight proposals, some of which include legislative measures for the 2007 state Legislature. The plan makes it clear that the Land Office will continue to pursue litigation to remove houses from the beach ? if necessary.
June 7, 2006 marked the expiration of Pattersons two-year moratorium order, which suspended the ability of state and local officials to file suit to remove 116 houses from the public beach.
With the expiration of this moratorium order, the houses remaining on the beach, or seaward of the natural line of vegetation, became subject to removal actions from state and local officials.
Patterson said he hopes the Land Office will be able to approve every application filed for reimbursement. But if the total cost of applications for reimbursement exceeds the money available, he will have to prioritize the requests.
In that case, priority will go to structures that pose a threat to public health and safety in the event of a storm surge and other hazards, or those that block public access to the beach.