Sea Breeze Estates Illegal Retaining Wall, Dune Destruction

Themes

Chapter: South Texas
State: TX
Country: USA
Theme: Beach Access
Launch Date: December 18 2012
Completion Date: August 14 2016
Status: Victory

Goal
Fought for the removal of the illegal retaining wall. Not only was it illegal, but was a direct threat to the public beach and public access while being a liability to the public tax payer who could lose access opportunities to their beach.

VICTORY! The illegal retaining wall has been removed.

Background: The Cameron County Dune Protection Committee manipulated the Cameron County Commissioners Court into allowing the construction of an illegal retaining wall by the Sea Breeze Estates on the Cameron County Beaches of South Padre Island, Texas. In Texas and under the Cameron County Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan, development of a retaining wall or habitable structure can not happen within 200' landward of the Line of Vegetation, the landward boundary of the public beach, to allow the beach to move and adjust to storms while protecting the taxpayer from bailing out and being exposed to having to pay for the removal or protection of that structure. Through project misrepresentation by members of the County Dune Protection Committee that have interest in the project, the committee was able to trick Commissioners into approving something that was never allowed. Essentially, the ''fence" they approved became a 12-14' retaining wall.

Earlier Provisional Victory:
The Surfrider Foundation South Texas Chapter helped to win a victory for Texas Open Beaches Laws and the public taxpayer on October 11, 2013.  A Jury in Travis County, Texas ruled in favor of the State's case against Sea Breeze Estates in Cameron County and their illegal retaining wall.  The South Texas Chapter was directly involved in the raising of the alarm and the providing of evidence that led to the ruling.  In the end, the Jury hit the developer with $10,000 in beach related fines  for dune destruction along with another $419,000 in other violation fines, ordered the reimbursement of $200,000 in legal expenses back to the state and the removal of the retaining wall along with mitigation of the destruction of the dunes in the area.

The South Texas Chapter partnered up with the Texas General Land Office and Texas Attorney General's Office to provide "on the ground" photographic, meeting, and presented evidence to achieve the outcome of the removal of the wall.