|(a) Standards applicable to local governments. This
section provides standards applicable to local government issuance,
denial, or conditioning of permits or certificates, as well as all
other local government activities relating to management of public
(b) Construction of coastal and shore protection projects.
Local governments shall encourage carefully planned beach nourishment
and sediment bypassing for erosion response management and prohibit
erosion response structures within the public beach and 200 feet landward
of the line of vegetation.
(c) Monitoring. A local government or the state may
require a permittee to conduct or pay for a monitoring program to
study the effects of a coastal and shore protection project on the
public beach. Further, permittees are required to notify the state
and the appropriate local government of any discernible change in
the erosion rate on their property.
(d) Requirements for beach nourishment projects. A
local government shall not allow a beach nourishment project unless
it finds and the project sponsor demonstrates that the following requirements
(1) The project is consistent with the local government's
dune protection and beach access plan.
(2) The sediment to be used is of effective grain size,
mineralogy, and quality or the same as the existing beach material.
(3) The proposed nourishment material does not contain
any of the hazardous substances listed in the Code of Federal Regulations,
Volume 40, Part 300, in concentrations which are harmful to human
health or the environment as determined by applicable, relevant, and
appropriate requirements established by the local, state, and federal
(4) There will be no adverse environmental effects
on the property surrounding the area from which the sediment will
be taken or to the site of the proposed nourishment.
(5) The removal of sediment will not have any adverse
impacts on flora and fauna.
(6) There will be no adverse effects caused from transporting
the nourishment material.
(e) Restoration of dunes on public beaches. Sand dunes,
either naturally created or restored, may aid in the preservation
of the coastal environment by providing a protective barrier against
beach erosion processes. Except as otherwise provided, local governments
shall allow restoration of dunes on the public beach no more than
20 feet seaward of the landward boundary of the public beach. Restored
dunes may be located farther seaward than the 20-foot restoration
area only upon an affirmative demonstration by the permit applicant
that substantial dunes would likely form farther seaward naturally
and would not restrict or interfere with public access to the beach
at normal high tide. Such seaward extension past the 20-foot area
must first receive prior written approval of the General Land Office.
In the absence of such an affirmative demonstration by the applicant,
a local government shall require the applicant to meet the requirements
provided in §15.4(f)(3) of this title (relating to Dune Protection
Standards) and the following standards relating to the location of
(1) Local governments shall require persons to locate
restored dunes in the area extending no more than 20 feet seaward
of the landward boundary of the public beach. Local governments shall
ensure that the 20-foot restoration area follows the natural migration
of the vegetation line.
(2) Local governments shall not allow any person to
restore dunes, even within the 20-foot corridor, if such dunes would
restrict or interfere with the public use of the beach at normal high
(3) Local governments shall require persons to restore
dunes to be continuous with any surrounding naturally formed dunes
and shall approximate the natural position, contour, volume, elevation,
vegetative cover, and sediment content of any naturally formed dunes
in the proposed dune restoration area.
(4) Local governments shall require persons restoring
dunes to use indigenous vegetation that will achieve the same protective
capability as the surrounding natural dunes.
(5) Local governments shall not allow any person to
restore dunes using any of the following methods or materials:
(A) hard or engineered structures;
(B) materials such as bulkheads, riprap, concrete,
asphalt rubble, building construction materials, and any non-biodegradable
(C) fine, clayey, or silty sediments;
(D) sediments containing the toxic materials listed
in Volume 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 302.4 in concentrations
which are harmful to people, flora, and fauna as determined by applicable,
relevant, and appropriate requirements for toxicity standards established
by the local, state, and federal governments; and
(E) sand obtained by scraping or grading dunes or the
(6) Local governments may allow persons to use the
following dune restoration methods or materials:
(A) piles of sand having similar grain size and mineralogy
as the surrounding beach;
(B) temporary, discontinuous sand fences conforming
to the most recent edition of the General Land Office Dune Protection
and Improvement Manual for the Texas Gulf Coast guidelines;
(C) organic brushy materials such as used Christmas
trees and seaweed; and
(D) sand obtained by scraping accreting beaches only
if the scraping is approved by the local government and the project
is monitored to determine any changes that may increase erosion of
the public beach.
(7) Local governments shall protect restored dunes
under the same restrictions and requirements as natural dunes under
the local government's jurisdiction.
(8) Local governments shall not allow a permittee to
construct or maintain a structure on the restored dunes that are seaward
of a dune protection line, except for specifically permitted dune
walkovers or similar access ways.
(9) All applications submitted to a local government
for the restoration of dunes on the public beach shall be forwarded
to the General Land Office at least 10 working days prior to the local
government's consideration of the permit. Failure of the General Land
Office to submit comments on an application shall not waive, diminish,
or otherwise modify the beach access and use rights of the public.
(f) Scientific research projects. Local governments
may exempt a scientific research project from the requirements of §15.4(c)
of this title or subsection (e) of this section provided the research
is conducted by an academic institution or state, federal, or local
government. Prior to conducting the research, the project manager
shall submit a detailed work plan and monitoring plan for approval
by the General Land Office. The research activities shall not materially
weaken existing dunes or dune vegetation or increase erosion of adjacent
(g) Dune walkovers. Local governments shall only allow
dune walkovers, including other similar beach access mechanisms, which
extend onto the public beach under the following circumstances.
(1) Local governments shall require that permittees
restrict the walkovers, to the greatest extent possible, to the most
landward point of the public beach.
(2) Local governments shall require that permittees
construct and locate the walkovers in a manner that will not interfere
with or otherwise restrict public use of the beach at normal high
(3) Local governments shall require permittees to construct
dune walkovers in a manner that complies with §15.6(i) of this
title (relating to Concurrent Dune Protection and Beachfront Construction
(4) Local governments shall require that permittees
relocate walkovers to follow any landward migration of the public
beach or seaward migration of dunes using the following procedures
(A) After significant landward migration of the landward
boundary of the public beach, local governments shall require permittees
to shorten any dune walkovers encroaching on the public beach to the
appropriate length for removal of the encroachment. This requirement
shall be contained as a condition in any permit and certificate issued
authorizing construction of walkovers.
(B) In cases where a dune walkover needs to be lengthened
because of the seaward migration of dunes, the permittee shall apply
for a permit or certificate authorizing the modification of the structure.
(h) Preservation and enhancement of public beach use
and access. A local government shall regulate pedestrian or vehicular
beach access, traffic, and parking on the beach only in a manner that
preserves or enhances existing public right to use and have access
to and from the beach. A local government shall not impair or close
an existing access point, close a public beach to pedestrian or vehicular
traffic, or modify public beach parking without prior approval from
the General Land Office. The General Land Office may approve and certify
a local government's modification to their beach access and use plan
based upon the General Land Office's affirmative finding that such
modifications preserve or enhance the public's right to use and access
the public beach.
(1) For the purposes of this subchapter, beach access
and use is presumed to be preserved if the following criteria are
(A) Parking on or adjacent to the beach is adequate
to accommodate one car for each 15 linear feet of beach.
(B) Where vehicles are prohibited from driving on and
along the beach, ingress/egress access ways are no farther apart than
(C) Signs are conspicuously posted which explain the
nature and extent of vehicular controls, parking areas, and access
points, including access for persons with disabilities.
(2) A local government shall have an adopted, enforceable,
written policy prohibiting the local government's abandonment, relinquishment,
or conveyance of any right, title, easement, right-of-way, street,
path, or other interest that provides existing or potential beach
access, unless an alternative equivalent or better beach access is
first provided by the local government consistent with its dune protection
and beach access plan and this subchapter.
(3) This provision does not apply to any existing local
government traffic regulations enacted before the effective date of
this subchapter, and the former law is continued in effect until the
regulations are amended or changed in whole or in part. New or amended
vehicular traffic regulations enacted for public safety, such as establishing
speed limits and pedestrian rights-of-way, are exempt from the certification
procedure but must nevertheless be consistent with the Open Beaches
Act and this subchapter.
(4) This subchapter does not prevent a local government
from using its existing authority to close individual beach access
points for emergencies related to public safety. However, the standards
and procedures for such emergency closures shall be included in its
state-approved dune protection and beach access plan. The GLO must
be notified by the local government as soon as practicable of any
(5) A local government may not restrict vehicular traffic
from a public beach unless it preserves or enhances beach access for
persons with disabilities. For the purposes of vehicular restrictions
only, beach access for persons with disabilities is presumed to be
preserved if the following criteria are met:
(A) Where vehicles are prohibited from driving to mean
high tide, at least one access way with a stable, slip-resistant surface
to the approximate high tide line is provided in each jurisdiction
and signs identifying the accessible beach access route are conspicuously
posted at the landward terminus of the access route.
(i) Where a local government can demonstrate that providing
and maintaining a stable, slip-resistant surface to the approximate
high tide line is not practicable, local governments shall provide
an alternate means of access for persons with disabilities, such as
(ii) In areas where vehicular access is prohibited,
local governments have until December 31, 2023 to come into compliance
with the above provisions.
(B) In areas where vehicles are prohibited from driving
on and along the beach, golf carts must also be prohibited. However,
the local government must allow the use on the beach of a golf cart,
as defined by §551.401, Texas Transportation Code, if:
(i) the golf cart is being operated by or for the transportation
of a veteran with disabilities or a person with a physical disability;
(ii) a disabled parking placard issued under §681.004,
Texas Transportation Code, is displayed in a conspicuous manner on
the golf cart.
(C) The local government must provide at least one
ingress/egress access way accessible to golf carts for each area of
the beach where vehicles are prohibited.
(D) A local government may limit the use of golf carts
for the transportation of a person with a physical disability to electric
powered golf carts.