Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Egregious Act of Planting Grass

You may recall that at the end of the regular session of the 81st legislature State Rep. Wayne Christian managed to get an amendment to a bill dealing with the state’s beaches inserted, and the bill passed. Now the language of the amendment made it such that it affected only twelve properties on Crystal Beach, one of which was owned by, you guessed it, Wayne Christian.

In essence, it exempted these properties from the law that differentiates public beach from private property. That law defined this boundary as the line of vegetation that appears between 4 and 5 feet above mean sea level. But because Hurricane Ike stripped sand and vegetation from the beach, some homeowners now find that their houses, if they survived the storn, or their property, if their houses did not, are now on the public beach.

When Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson found out about it, he was hopping mad and vowed not to enforce the exemption.

Why rehash all of this? Well it seems that other property owners at Crystal Beach felt a little left out and figured out how they would get their property back out of public hands.

Plant some grass.

From The Chron:

“Some property owners, however, are taking a more proactive approach by planting grass and shrubs along the edge of a dune on Bolivar Peninsula to keep their homes off the public beach.”

This is pretty comical, really. Tragic, though. Tragic because it addresses the mentality of these people who knew full well that they stood to lose everything if the beach erodes – something that it has been doing as long as Texas has been a state. And probably before that.

The other tragedy is that it reveals the sheer ignorance of these (former) property owners. Grass doesn’t grow just anywhere. There is a vegetation line because that is where grass can survive. Some species of grass are tolerant of low salinity soil, but when the salinity exceeds its natural limits, grass fails to grow. In the quote from The Chron we read that “the line of vegetation is drawn by Mother Nature.” And that is exactly right.

And you can’t fool Mother Nature.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and his General Land Office’s beach and dune team leader, Angela Sunley are apparently taking this all in stride.

“Planted vegetation lines won’t automatically ensure that beach property is eligible for construction, Sunley said. The land office will ignore artificially created vegetation lines jutting from the natural line.”

“‘It has to be a continuous line of vegetation,’ Sunley said.”

“Moreover, property owners must obtain a permit from the Galveston County Building Department in order to plant. No such permits have been issued since the storm, county building official Sean Welsh said.”

“Those who didn’t obtain a permit don’t have to worry for now because the land office has decided to enforce regulations only when violations become too blatant to ignore — for instance, blocking the public beach entirely — as property owners struggle to recover from storm damage.”

“‘It has to be very egregious,’ Sunley said.”

I guess they must be used to dealing with ignorant characters like this, because in using the term “egregious,” I would have to think that the violation would be flagrant and notorious.

Like stealing property from the people.

1 comment:

tonyb said...

Something else to think about storm damage...Here's some thoughts on disaster preparedness/recovery:

Are You Disaster Ready?

What do you expect in case of loss? Who cares? Who has disaster preparedness/recovery money for that?
I don't have all the answers, but I do have this one:
A letter pertaining to disaster (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, etc.) has been sent to President Obama on behalf of all insurance policyholders. As a matter of transparency on the record of insurance consumer protection, any response by President Obama will be posted on the following Website for review:

Qui potest et debet vetare, jubet: (Law Maxim)