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Look What They Are Doing
to OUR Beach

by Lucinda "it's my website and I'll editorialize if I want to" Wierenga

Remember who Nero was, and what legend has he was doing while Rome burned?

So these days I am paying ever greater attention to the issues that our community leaders are busily occupying themselves with: The mayor's top priority is designating a new sister city (whatever happened to our old one - did we disown her?); the design committee wants to tell us what colors we can paint our buildings; the EDC wants to encourage us to eat more nutritiously by telling local restaurants what to put on their menus; and the committee of good taste wants to rid us of the giant shark at Jaws because it is "tacky" -- never mind that you can't drive past it without seeing a bunch of happy tourists getting their pictures taken with it.

Meanwhile, back at the beach - which, last time I checked was still our main attraction here - bulldozers were spending the biggest holiday weekend of the season chewing up and busting down the last line of dunes at the end of Campeche Street. At the beginning of hurricane season. And no one seemed to notice or care.

It is way past time to look at the ordinance that allows this kind of thing -- if in fact it really does. As I understand it, this dune was originally surveyed at 14.5 feet. Someone didn't like that number, so it was surveyed again and it had magically grown - practically overnight - to 15.5 feet! Of course it is just a coincidence that the ordinance that allows beach front property owners to cut down dunes for their viewing pleasure specifies a dune height of 15 feet. So the dunes and all the vegetation whose interlocking roots keep our island from rolling into the sea were completely decimated.

Should a storm hit our island this season, it is not just the beachfront structures that are going to be affected. I would in fact be very nervous if my house were anywhere near the general vicinity of Campeche St. That bulldozer did a whole lot more then just destroy the vegetation and the habitat of the creatures that lived in those dunes. It did more then just uglify a section of our beautiful beach. And it did more then just ruin the holiday of anyone trying to enjoy a peaceful and quiet afternoon on the nearby beaches. It punched a huge hole in the island's natural defenses against storm erosion. This is a gaping wound that will take a very long time to heal.

Our leaders continue to get away with looking the other way or outright defying the rulings of the GLO when it suits the purposes of a well-connected property owner. For too long our city council never met a variance request they didn't like -- or a developer whose plans to suck up the last of the public parking, build to the last inch of buildable space and pave over the last bit of greenery -- who cares about drainage issues? We'll let our kids worry about that somewhere down the road.

But I digress. Back to the ugly scar at the end of Campeche. Clearly this bulldozer went a good long way onto the public beach by tearing down the last line of dunes. There has been a suggestion that perhaps the bulldozer driver just "goofed." Again. The old saw about it being "better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission" is bullshit when everyone knows in advance that forgiveness is guaranteed, instantaneous and consequence-free.

The beaches of Texas do not belong to a few people rich enough to own beachfront property; thanks to the Open Beaches Act, they belong to everyone. It is our responsibility to take care of them, and it seems to me that we are doing a lousy job of it. How many upscale tourists do you think are going to come all the way down to the tail end of Texas to see our (proposed) lovely landscaped boulevard if there is no beach?

Ask the fiddlers that one. On second thought, don't bother. They are too busy comparing color swatches.

(photo courtesy of Gene Gore at spadre.com)

Take action! Contact the people in control and tell them how you feel about this: http://www.townspi.com/officials.html

the beach and dune task force makes recommendations on beach and dune related permits - http://www.townspi.com/committees.html

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