Lariat Letters: When voting, think about Texas beaches

Like many of you I am a frequent visitor to the beach.

I fell in love with Texas beaches in 1955. I was 6 years old when I built my first sand castle on Stewart Beach. I built my last one with Tori, my 6 year-old granddaughter, just a few weeks ago. Public beach access is very important to me. I want Tori to be able to enjoy our coast as much as I have. Every visitor to the coast should have that same opportunity.

Earlier this year the Texas Supreme Court overturned the Texas Open Beaches Act in a lawsuit filed by Carol Severance, a California attorney. Her goal was to reverse the OBA guarantee of the public’s right to use our beaches – from the water to the line of vegetation. The sand is, after all, obviously “the beach.” She prefers the California version of a public beach – only the sand that is covered by high tide each day. The dry sand is private property in California. Five members of the Texas Supreme Court agreed with her. They created an exemption from the OBA for the front-row owners on West Galveston Island. Dry sand is now “private beach.”

There are three Supreme Court positions on the ballot on Tuesday. The two incumbents sold-out Tori, you and I. They took away our 53 year-old right to use the entire beach. For this reason I refuse to vote to re-elect Don Willett or Nathan Hecht.

There is only one candidate for the court who wants to preserve your public beach access – Michele Petty.

If you believe Texas beaches belong to the public, please do the same.

Ellis Pickett

Activist for the health and free public access to Texas beaches.