November 5, 2009

Court should prevent use of Prop. 9 to take beach

By Court should prevent use of Prop. 9 to take beach

PLF attorney J. David Breemer has an article in the Houston Chronicle about the attempt by state officials to devise a clever legal stratagem to take property from people without just compensation:

At issue is state officials' strange embrace of a rolling beach — a concept that has no basis in Texas law.

Under the rolling beach theory, state officials claim the public beach includes any private property that loses its natural grass, for whatever reason. It makes no difference to officials if such property was lawfully developed decades ago and has never before been used by the public. If the plants die due to tides or sudden storm events, officials assert all the land has become part of the public beach. When this happens, any existing homes on the denuded area become illegal in the state's eyes…. State lawyers contrived the rolling beach theory when they discovered that it is difficult and expensive to actually prove prior public use of all those private areas that come to be seaward of the vegetation line. To solve the problem, they decided that location of the vegetation line by itself determines if a private parcel is a public beach. Armed with this theory, they now claim that existing public beaches automatically move inland to swallow private land every time beach grass disappears. This theory turns every storm into an opportunity for the state to snatch up wide swaths of private land.

Read the rest here.

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