Following Hurricane Laura, the GLO implemented emergency rules allowing local governments to issue beachfront construction certificates and dune protection permits for areas impacted by the storm.
After landfall of Tropical Storm Beta, the GLO withdrew the Hurricane Laura rules and replaced them with expanded rules that not only authorized dune restoration but also include select emergency stabilization activities and repairs to homes.
This action allows property owners to repair dunes damaged by the effects of Hurricane Laura or Tropical Storm Beta and to construct dune restoration projects to minimize further threat or damage to coastal residents and littoral property. It now also allows certain minor repairs necessary to stabilize or repair access to a habitable structure.
FAQ (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)
- What is “emergency dune restoration”?
The GLO’s normal permitting process requires a local review of the permit application and a ten (10) day review period for the GLO to comment on the proposed permit application before issuance. The Emergency Dune Restoration Rules speeds up this process by giving local governments the ability to authorize rapid dune repair without the additional reviews.
- What is an “emergency stabilization and repair of a habitable structure”?
An emergency stabilization and emergency repair to habitable structure is a construction activity necessary to immediately stabilize, prevent further damage to, or make habitable a residence that was damaged by Hurricane Laura or Tropical Storm Beta. Emergency stabilization and repairs for a habitable structure for damage caused by Laura and Beta can be authorized much more quickly than under the regular permitting process.
- Why is rapid dune repair necessary?
Dune repair is necessary to minimize further threat or damage to coastal residents and littoral property. Sand dunes serve as barriers that protect buildings and property from future storms and high tide. They also mitigate the threat to public health and safety from storm surge and flooding. Since it is still hurricane season, this threat is ongoing, and the repairs need to be completed as quickly as possible.
- What areas of the coast are allowed to perform emergency dune restoration and emergency stabilization and repairs of a habitable structure?
All local governments in Brazoria County and Galveston County that administer a local dune protection and beach access plan can issue a permit for emergency repairs.
- Who is authorizing the permits for emergency dune restoration and emergency stabilization and repairs of a habitable structure?
The local government that issues Beachfront Construction Certificates and Dune Protection Permits for your area authorizes emergency repairs.
City of Galveston: 409-797-3660
Galveston County: 409-770-5552
Village of Surfside Beach: 979-233-1531
Brazoria County : 979-864-1272
City of Jamaica Beach: 409-737-1142
When can I begin dune restoration?
As soon as you receive an emergency authorization or a regular permit from your local government, you can begin dune restoration in the area where dunes existed before the storm. In the event that no dunes existed in the area before the storm, you can construct a dune within 10 feet seaward of the habitable structure.
Could a change in the established Line of Vegetation impact my ability to repair dunes?
No. As long as the dune restoration work is completed in accordance with the emergency rules and the authorization from the local government and does not interfere with the public’s use of the beach, a change in the Line of Vegetation will not impact those repairs.
- For how long can the local government authorize emergency repairs?
The GLO has adopted emergency rules that modify normal permitting requirements to allow local governments to quickly authorize emergency repairs through January 29th, 2021. The permit itself will be good for six months after the date it is issued.
- What information is required for a dune restoration or emergency stabilization and repairs of a habitable structure permit?
Your name, address, the address of the location, and a brief description of the emergency repairs. For an emergency dune restoration authorization, you must also provide the location of the dune and pictures of the emergency dune restoration project before and after completion of the authorized activities. For an emergency stabilization and repair of a habitable structure, you must provide a description of the repairs and pictures of the structure before and after completion of the authorized activities. Some local jurisdictions may require additional information.
- What activities can I do under the emergency rules?
You can repair dunes damaged by the effects of Hurricane Laura or Tropical Storm Beta with beach quality sand and construct dune restoration projects to minimize further threat or damage to residents and property. You can restore dunes in the area where dunes existed before the storm, or no more than 10 feet seaward of a habitable structure if no dunes existed in the area before the storm.
The local government may allow persons to use the following methods or materials for emergency dune restoration:
- beach-quality sand having similar grain size and mineralogy as the surrounding beach;
- organic brushy material including seaweed and dune vegetation; and
You can also make repairs to a habitable structure damaged by Hurricane Laura or Tropical Storm Beta to the extent necessary to make a structure habitable or prevent further damage.
The local government may allow persons to conduct the following emergency stabilization and repairs for a habitable structure:
- place beach quality sand or a sandy clay mixture beneath the footprint of a residential structure, only if stabilization of the structure is required to prevent foreseeable undermining of the habitable structure and if the sandy clay mixture is covered with at least 12 inches of beach quality sand, where practicable;
- repair or construct an enclosed space under a habitable structure if it is constructed of breakaway or louvered walls and is consistent with the local dune protection and beach access plan and the National Flood Insurance Program;
- construct wooden decking or stairs under or directly adjacent to the footprint of a habitable structure only as necessary to make the house accessible;
- install new pilings or repair existing pilings; and
- place beach-quality sand on the lot in the area up to 10 feet seaward of a habitable structure where necessary to prevent further erosion due to wind or water.
Consult your local government for more information on the permitting process.
- What is not allowed under the emergency rules?
You cannot use materials other than beach quality sand to construct dunes. This includes sandbags, clay or other hard materials. You cannot restore dunes in a manner that blocks or impedes public use of the beach.
The local government shall not allow any person to undertake dune restoration projects using any of the following materials:
- materials such as bulkheads, sandbags, riprap, concrete, asphalt rubble, building construction materials, and any non-biodegradable items;
- sediments containing hazardous substances sand obtained by scraping or grading dunes or eroding beaches; or
- sand that is not beach-quality sand or an acceptable mineralogy and grain size when compared to the sediments found in the beach/dune system or contains clay.
Emergency stabilization or repairs to a habitable structure may not include:
- increasing the footprint of the habitable structure;
- the use of impervious material, including but not limited to concrete or fibercrete;
- the repair or construction of a bulkhead, retaining wall, or other erosion response structure or structural shore protection project;
- the use of sandbags;
- repairs that occur seaward of mean high tide; or
- placement of beach-quality sand or sandy clay seaward of the mean high tide line.
For a habitable structure to be eligible for repairs under the emergency rules, no part of the structure may be located seaward of mean high tide, and the habitable structure must not have been damaged more than 50 percent by a storm. The structure must not present an imminent threat to public health and safety.
Repairs to structures that are subject to ongoing enforcement action under the Chapter 31 Texas Administrative Code, the Open Beaches Act, the Dune Protection Act, or a local government beach access and dune protection plan are also not eligible for an emergency authorization and must go through the standard permitting process.
Consult your local government for more information on the permitting process.
- My bulkhead or geotube is exposed and damaged. Can I repair it?
No. Constructing, repairing, or maintaining a bulkhead, erosion response structure or shore protection project is prohibited.
- Can I get my utilities reconnected under the emergency authorization?
Yes. Reconnection to water, sewer, electricity and gas should be coordinated through the local government and must be made in accordance with other applicable laws and local ordinances.
- What can I do about other activities not covered under the emergency rules?
Apply to your local government for a regular Beachfront Construction Certificate & Dune Protection Permit for other repairs or construction projects not covered under the emergency rules. The normal permitting process includes a local review of the permit and a ten (10) day review period for the GLO to comment on the proposed permit application.