Eroding Beach Sparks Property Rights Battle

As a Texas beach erodes and the waves come closer to shore, homeowners are scrambling to figure out what to do when the public beach invades their private property.

1 minute read

June 19, 2008, 7:00 AM PDT

By Nate Berg


"Surfside, Texas, is a small beach town south of Houston. There are no fancy condos here, no high-rise developments. The town, with just one traffic light, is mainly rows of cottages on tidy lawns. At 809 Beach Drive, a sky-blue house sports a sign that displays its name: the Sand Castle."

"The Sand Castle needed a lot of care - it was a wreck - but you couldn't beat the location."

"'We had sand dunes and salt grasses growing in front of our house," recalls Brooks Porter. And just beyond the dunes was the beach.'"

"Since then, Surfside has seen some of the worst erosion on the Texas coast. The dunes are gone. So is the salt grass. The house now sits at the water's edge, stranded like a beached whale."

"A whale on stilts, that is."

"But Brooks Porter says it's not the water that worries him. It's the state of Texas."

"The Porters have been engaged in a decade-long struggle with the state government, and it's a fight that may foreshadow battles in other coastal areas. At issue: What happens when the public beach moves onto private property?"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 in NPR

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