Let me re-cap briefly my unsophisticated understanding and analysis, and then proceed with the mental fruits of the walk I took yesterday evening.
Back in July 2011, I published a post called "West end wackiness" which crudely summarizes the state of the mess surrounding the challenges to the Texas Open Beaches Act.
Things apparently haven't gotten much clearer in the intervening period of time. There was a subsequent judgment in March of 2012 affirming that the "beach" had indeed become private property (if I'm understanding it correctly), but I'm not entirely sure that anyone really understands what that means on a practical level at this point. The mainstream news media hasn't been all that helpful because they've tended to view the issue through the lens of whether or not "the public" is allowed onto "the beach". But apparently it's not that simple.
|Pic from that original July 2011 blog post. The whole thing started because of legal debate over the line of natural vegetation and what happens following abnormally-intense erosive events, such as hurricanes. Like Ike, for instance.|
|I'm still perplexed as to why this beach is allowed to be treated as a right-of-way. There's so much vehicle traffic that they've basically carved a superhighway through the vegetation that reportedly means everything in the eyes of the law.|
|As I was trolling for the latest updates on this issue, I found this FAQ produced by the Texas General Land Office. According to that source, the "wet beach" (the portion below the high tide line) can still be lawfully accessed by the public, regardless of any recent legal judgments.|
|That being the case, at least we've preserved the rights of future generations of Texas children to be able to collect shells...|
|...and see all the fascinating evidence of life in the littoral zone, even if they have to wait until low tide to do it. |
But if we extrapolate that thought, that statement regarding dry-beach access restrictions, out to its full extent, the picture it paints is very bizarre. What would families do if we were all held to this wet-beach-only access restriction? Would people line their cars up on FM 3005 and sit patiently waiting for the tide to recede before they could get out and legally trek to a narrow ribbon of damp sand? It would be the beach-analog of being relegated to the steerage section of the Titanic, a scenario that strikes me as a particularly ugly form of classism.
|We don't yet have transparency on the bottom lines. For the time being, we'll have to settle for transparency in this delicate feather.|