Urban Fold

In Wake of Hurricane, New Beachfront Property Faces Seizure

An obscure law in Texas outlawing buildings on public beachfront could be invoked to seize hundreds of properties. Hurricane Ike has pushed the tide line closer to many homes, making them subject to the law even if they weren't damaged.

"Even people whose coastal houses were spared by Hurricane Ike could see them condemned under a little-known Texas law, and hundreds whose beachfront homes were wrecked could be barred from rebuilding there."

"Now here's the saltwater in the wound: It could be a year before the state tells these homeowners what they may or may not do. And if these homeowners do lose their beachfront property, they may get no compensation from the state."

"The reason: the 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act. Under the law, the strip of beach between the average high-tide line and the average low-tide line is considered public property, and buildings are illegal there."

"Over the years, the state has repeatedly invoked the law to seize houses in cases where a storm eroded a beach so badly that a home was suddenly sitting on public property. The aftermath of Ike could see the biggest such use of the law in Texas history."

Full Story: Beach erosion from Ike may make homes illegal

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