Texas General Land Office Issues Temporary Suspension of the Line of Vegetation (LOV)
The 2020 hurricane season brought an onslaught of particularly damaging effects, especially from Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Beta. The Galveston and Surfside areas experienced a loss of beach elevation and a significant loss of dunes and dune vegetation.
The Texas General Land Office conducted extensive beach surveys following the storms and determined that the line of vegetation (LOV) had been completely obliterated in certain areas.
Due to the damaging effects of the storms and the obliteration of the LOV in some areas, the Texas General Land Office has issued an Order under the authority of Texas Natural Resource Code Sections 61.0171 and 61.0185 that temporarily suspends the determination of the LOV for two years and suspends certain enforcement actions for removal of houses on the public beach for three years in Surfside and in parts of Galveston. This Temporary Order is necessary to give the beach and dune system time to recover naturally from the meteorological events and establish a new line of vegetation. This temporary Order also maintains the status quo for the duration of the order protecting the private property rights of littoral landowners.
Under the Order, for a period of two years, the public beach will extend to a line 200 feet inland from the line of mean low tide as established by a licensed state land surveyor. For permitting purposes, local governments will be required to use 200 feet landward of MLT as the LOV, as applicable depending on the local government’s Beach Access & Dune Protection Plan. This Order applies to homeowners, businesses, and local governments during the permitting process.
The establishment of the LOV at 200 feet from mean low tide line will mean that a limited number of homes are now partially or wholly located on the public beach. One of the primary purposes of the Order is to give the beach and natural line of vegetation time to recover rather than seeking immediate enforcement regarding structures located on the public beach. The Order includes a three-year suspension of the ability for the Commissioner to request that the Texas Attorney General’s Office file a suit to remove any home from the public beach. The only two exemptions to this rule are that:
- The house must have been located landward of the natural LOV prior to the meteorological events that are the subject of this Order; and
- The house must not present an imminent threat to public health and safety.
During the duration of this Order, property owners may make limited repairs to their homes that are seaward of the LOV in accordance with 31 TAC § 15.11.
The temporary suspension of the LOV and enforcement Order applies within the Village of Surfside Beach city limits and in the City of Galveston from the western terminus of the Seawall west to 13 Mile Road.
- Temporary Suspension of LOV & Enforcement Order (.pdf)
- FAQs (.pdf)
- Galveston Maps (.pdf)
- Surfside Maps (.pdf)