About Proposition 9: Texas Constitutional Amendments

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This post is from Burnt Orange Report's coverage of the 2009 Constitutional Amendment election. For coverage of the 2011 Constitutional Amendment election, CLICK HERE.

Early voting is on for the Constitutional Amendments election. Yesterday and today, Burnt Orange Report is providing some information about the 11 propositions on the ballot. Our aim is to give a broad sense of how different Texas entities perceive these amendments. In the table below, we've compiled their yea, nay, or no-endorse. Sources are all linked at the bottom. Friday, BOR will issue our official endorsements on some or all of these amendments. For more on the Amendment process, see the post on Amendment 1.



Proposition 9: Establishing a Right to Use and Access Public Beaches


“Proposition 9 would establish the public's unrestricted right to access public beaches as a permanent easement. … The proposed amendment would also authorize the Legislature to enact laws to protect the public access to the beach and the easement from interference and encorachment. There would be no right of private enforcement.” –League of Women Voters Guide

Source: Endorsement:
Austin Chronicle: YES. “A very good amendment. This is actually an important defense of the constitutional right of all Texans – but not currently stated in the constitution – of permanent access to public beaches without interference from developers or other private interests.”
El Paso Times: NO. “This proposition involves public access to beaches and doesn't need to be in the Constitution.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram: YES. “How many miles of Gulf of Mexico beaches in Texas are publicly owned and open for year-round use? All of them. 624 miles, from Sabine Pass on the Texas-Louisiana border to the Rio Grande, … are federally protected. In the Nov. 3 constitutional amendment election, Texans have a chance to keep it that way.”
Houston Tea Party Patriots: NO. “Under the Open Beaches Act, the state has forced homeowners to move or remove their houses after hurricanes and other changes to the coastline. The law should be weakened, not placed in the Constitution.”
Sen. Kirk Watson's “Watson Wire:” YES. “It also says beaches would continue to belong to the public, even if storms or erosion move the beach under houses or other buildings.”

These posts will continue throughout the day. Endorsements by the Burnt Orange Report staff will follow on Friday.

Sources:

League of Women Voters Guide (PDF)

Austin Chronicle Endorsements, October 16, 2009

El Paso Times, October 18, 2009

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Endorsements, October 16, 2009

Houston Tea Party Patriots, October 15, 2009

Sen. Kirk Watson's Watson Wire, October 12, 2009

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About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

3 Comments

  1. This Amendment Concerns me.
    As someone that has enjoyed Texas beaches from South Padre Island to Galveston almost my entire life, I am wondering what the exact intent of this amendment is. Primarily, will this amendment be used to strike down or justify the removal of bans on private vehicles on some stretches of beaches?

    While I love Texas beaches, I hate the people that drive and/or park on them. I hate them so much that, every year when I go to Galveston, I am tempted to build gigantic sand berms in front of whatever place I'm staying at to prevent their passage.

    People I admire and like are pushing this amendment on Facebook, and I would just like to hear an expert chime in on this one before I cast my vote.

    I'm all for keeping every inch of coastline public, but I'm also for an outright ban on any motorized vehicle on that same coastline (or at least within a reasonable radius of major destinations).

    • The intent…
      as far as I can tell, is to protect the beaches for the people. Autos aren't an issue. (Though, not shockingly, I share your frustration with cars on beaches.)

      This is to protect beaches for the public. Erosion threatens to move the shoreline back under what is currently private property. This amendment would make that sandy shore still public land. In other words, if the beach moves to under your house, you don't own it.

    • Look Who Opposes It
      Look at the comment in opposition above from the Houston Tea Party.  This amendment is being pushed in order to fend off attacks from property rights activists who want the public to underwrite the risk a property owner takes when they buy beachfront property.  Those folks are trying to take away rights to public beach access and use that we have all enjoyed for centuries.

      On November 19th, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Open Beaches Act.  We need a strong vote in favor of this amendment, or we are at risk of losing our rights to some of the rare public land in Texas.

      On the subject of cars, unfortunately access means being able to drive.  One of the reasons that we've been able to maintain our open beaches is because of the history of driving on the beach, going back to when driving meant horse-drawn wagons.  If you look at old maps, you can see how the road heading west out of Sabine Pass goes to the beach and then continues along the beach toward Galveston.  Similarly, the stage coach from Galveston to Freeport used to run along the beaches of West Galveston Island.  The GLO has adopted rules and standards for providing beach parking so that you can close a beach to car traffic.

      Please vote in support of this amendment.  This will be a low-turnout election.  Don't let it be dominated by conservative voters.

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