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                Bird Island Basin (BIB), Laguna Madre, Corpus Christi Bay and Gulf Of Mexico

 

CCWA Launch Access Committee

 

The CCWA formed a Launch Access Committee and participated in successful efforts to keep the beach open and amend the City Charter requiring a public vote before closing any public beach area.  Below are some on the highlights of these activities.

CCWA Launch Access Committee

Launch Access Committee (LAC) Alerts

Current Issue - Packery Channel Access


Packery Channel is a popular spot for fishing, surfing, windsurfing and
kiteboarding. In 2006, the Corpus Christi City Council wanted to close
vehicular access for the public to the south jetty and give it to a
resort developer. Voters ket Packery open by voting the proposed
beach closure down in an election Nov 7, 2006.

The following is information provided by CCWA's Launch Access Committee in 2006 to keep our members and others abreast of the issues.

The CCWA continues to monitor and provide information concerning public access to the North and South Packery Channel jetties on this website. The CCWA supports working with City officials and local organizations to maintain unrestricted public access to all City of Corpus Christi beaches. The CCWA expects more than minimal public access in accordance with the Texas Open Beaches Act (see CCWA Beach Closure Position Statement).

Facts:

  • The City of Corpus Christi has authority to control public beaches within the city limits.
  • The Texas Open Beaches Act provides for public access and the Texas General Land Office must approve public beach restrictions.
  • There have never been and currently are no beaches that are closed to vehicular traffic adjacent to private property in the Coastal Bend.
  • The city may sublease the State land adjacent to the beach and Packery Channel to the adjacent landowner that insists a pedestrian only beach is a requirement for development.

Launch Access Committee Members and Mission
The CCWA Board of Directors has organized a Launch Access Committee. If you are interested in participating please contact any of the members shown below:

    Joe Lynch -
    Tamay Tipton -
    Bill Jones- CCWA Treasurer -
    Mike Murphy -

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Mission Statement
Develop and communicate CCWA positions to improve and create windsurfing access sites in the Coastal Bend, including Corpus Christi Bay, Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico launch sites. Monitor and work in conjunction with the city, state and other organizations to promote safety and appropriate access for all wind and water sports.

Action Plan

  • Communicate with CCWA board and organize CCWA resources
  • Identify issues and alternatives
  • Initiate communication to CCWA members
  • Develop specific position statements
  • Report status of current issues
  • Monitor position and plans of other groups pursuing similar issues
  • Develop CCWA action plan to address specific issues

Membership Input
Launch advocates and all other members are essential to identifying potential issues and providing input so the LAC is best able to represent the position of the CCWA. The CCWA Forum has been the most efficient method to gather input, it is not limited to CCWA members and not all members use it. CCWA members are encouraged to share their ideas and concerns freely with any LAC member or any of the CCWA's officers.

CCWA Beach Access Position Statement
The Corpus Christi Windsurfing Association (CCWA) was established in 1983 and represents over 150 windsurfers from our local area as well as many out-of-town visitors who come here on a regular basis to participate in our great sport. It is the CCWA’s mission to protect and promote windsurfing and windsport safety. We seek partnerships with the City of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore, Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and other public and private entities to achieve our goals. One of the CCWA’s top goals is to improve and create windsurfing launch sites in the Coastal Bend.

The CCWA feels all Coastal Bend beaches should be public and is opposed to any developments that may limit or effectively privatize beach/water access or might create a precedent for any future closures. Creating vehicle free areas on Coastal Bend beaches has a potential to severely limit public access when adjacent property is privately owned. The specific proposed beach closure related to the completion of the Packery Channel project is of vital interest and concern for the CCWA because the beach area from the north side of the Packery Channel jetties to the south side of Bob Hall Pier is popular for numerous water sports requiring direct beach access to the water.

The CCWA fully supports the beach access provisions of the current Texas Open Beaches Act (TOBA) and is opposed to any efforts to circumvent these provisions. A vehicle-free section of the beach may be appropriate if sufficient direct beach/water access and parking is provided, all requirements of the current TOBA are satisfied and the adjacent property is publicly owned.

CCWA Forum
To review discussions and activity summaries and to provide input or feedback related to the Launch Access Committee visit the CCWA FORUM.

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Issues on November 7, 2006 ballot

Charter Amendment 1 (VOTE AGAINST)
Ballot language:
Providing for a public pedestrian-safe beach limited to the approximately 7,200-foot area between Packery Channel and the north boundary of Padre Balli Park.
Full amendment:
A public pedestrian-safe beach area is authorized on the Gulf beach extending approximately 7,200 feet from the south jetty of Packery Channel southward and along the seaward side of the Gulf seawall to the northern boundary line of Padre Balli Park. The City Council is authorized to adopt ordinances restricting vehicular traffic on the public pedestrian-safe beach, except for emergency vehicles, vehicles used to maintain the beach or other authorized vehicles, and establishing the conditions required before the creation of the public pedestrian-safe beach. The ordinance effecting the creation of a public pedestrian-safe beach is not subject to initiative or referendum.

Charter Amendment 2 (VOTE FOR)
Ballot language:
Prohibiting any restrictions on vehicular access in order to create vehicle-free beaches unless approved by a majority of qualified voters of the city who vote at an election held for that purpose.
Full amendment:
Vehicular access to and on the Gulf beach may not be restricted unless approved by a majority vote of qualified voters of the city, voting at an election duly called for such purpose. Thereafter, the City Council may take appropriate action to restrict vehicular access to and on specific portions of the Gulf beach and comply with all other requirements necessary to implement the result of the election. The approval at election requirement shall not apply when vehicles are restricted from access to areas of the Gulf beach for public necessity. "Public necessity" shall be limited to environmental emergencies, public health and safety emergencies, and government functions whose importance justifies the restriction of vehicular access. The restriction of vehicular access for public necessity shall be limited to the smallest possible area and for the shortest possible duration.

Timeline:

  • August-September 2005 - Several meetings with city representatives, other groups and individuals provided no definitive plan for access to either the North or South Packery Channel Jetties. The issue at this time was limited to the beach adjacent to the Windward Drive seawall. Any compromises including a bollard separation of traffic, parking and driving were rejected.
  • October 2005 - The City Council passed ordinance No. 026526 to restrict vehicular access on the beach adjacent to the Windward Drive seawall. A public, non-binding commitment was made that there would were no additional vehicle access restrictions planned and no more would be processed.
  • December 2005 – The Mayor and four Council members voted to rescind ordinance No. 026526 and broke the commitment made to the public 2 months before (see below for an extract of the ordinance).
  • March 2006 – The City Council passed ordinance No. 026716 to restrict vehicular access from the south Packery Channel jetty to Padre Balli Park to establish a 7,200-foot pedestrian safe area and amend the city charter to require voter approval of any future beach restrictions.
  • April 2006 – The Beach Access Coalition group initiated petitions for referendum to repeal Ordinance No. 026716 and amend the city charter to require voter approval prior to restricting vehicular access to Gulf beaches.
  • June 2006 - The Beach Access Coalition petition signatures to repeal the 7,200-foot pedestrian beach restrictions are verified by the City. The Texas General Land Office extends timeline to review the revised beach development plan including the 7,200-foot pedestrian beach between the south Packery Channel and Padre Balli Park with a parking lot at each end of the existing seawall.
  • July 2006 - The City considers changing the referendum date from April 2007 to November, 2006 so the developer does not have to wait any longer than possible. The City (to save $100,000 in election costs) previously agreed with the Beach Access Coalition plan intended to include the referendum with the City election in April 2007.
  • August 2006 – The Beach Access Coalition petition signatures for a City Charter amendment requiring voter approval of any beach restrictions are verified by the City. The Beach Access Coalition requests that the amendment be on the ballot regardless of when the referendum is scheduled. The City rescinds Ordinance No. 026716, approves resolution for 7,200-foot pedestrian beach restrictions without a City Charter amendment and moves referendum date to November 2006.
  • November 7, 2006 – Registered voters will decide beach access issues in a referendum ballot which includes two City Charter amendments (see blue box above for the Ballot language and full amendments).


Texas General Land Office (TGLO) – Review and Public Input

The TGLO is reviewing the City of Corpus Christi revised beach development plan. The plan meets minimal requirements to restrict access to 7,200-foot of beach between the south Packery Channel jetty and Padre Balli Park.

The proposed parking lot, shown adjacent to the jetty when voters approved the Packery Channel TIF project, is now being placed 1,800-feet from the jetty. This plan establishes a precedent and will significantly restrict public access to the south Packery Channel jetty adjacent to private property.

The CCWA and other groups in opposition support the petitions for referendum requiring voter approval of any beach access restrictions for the following reasons:

  • Precedent setting beach access restrictions adjacent to private property
  • Breach of public commitment made by City Council members to limit the restrictions to 4,200-feet along the existing seawall adjacent to Windward Drive and provide a City Charter amendment requiring voter approval of future vehicle restrictions
  • Total lack of compromise, such as bollards to provide driving, parking and pedestrian areas on the beach for reasonable access to the south jetty.
  • The City may also sub-lease the TGLO land along the beach and channel to the primary landowner and developer. The take it all attitude of the developer who insisted the Packery Channel project was necessary for development, now wants to control the jetty and in the future plans to breach the channel and build a marina.
  • Two hotels, 1,500-2,000 homes/condominiums, restaurants and retail establishments and a few jobs do not make this a world class resort that requires a pedestrian-only beach.
  • The Coastal Bend area already has four existing pedestrian beach areas between Port Aransas and the Padre Island National Seashore.
  • A proposed transportation system from parking lot to jetty is not sufficient to provide disabled access, although the City plans to make the jetty wheelchair accessible.
  • Additional public input is important with the change in scope of the proposed development and beach access restrictions.

The TGLO has requested a delay to review the City’s plan and will publish findings in the Texas Register when completed. The TGLO plans to have a public hearing in Corpus Christi before final approval. Once the TGLO publishes its findings an official 30 day public input period will begin. Please consider sending your concerns in letter form (preferred), e-mail or phone calls to the TGLO during the official public comment period.

Commissioner Jerry Patterson
Texas General Land Office
1700 N. Congress Ave.
Suite 840
Austin, Texas 78701-1495
512/ 463-5256
1-800-998-4GLO (4456)
[email protected]

Corpus Christi Windsurfing Association
PO Box 81453 · Corpus Christi · TX · 78468
www.corpuschristiwindsurfing.com