Saturday, May 27, 2006

umbrella wars '06

Here it is just the first weekend of the summer and I have already seen an example of beachumbrella-rage at Neptune Circle.

Two competing beach service companies are trying to stake out their territory early in the season, so they are putting up more umbrellas than necessary and in the process laying claim to the primest of beach real estate. One of the beach users - a local - who happened to have his own umbrellas decided to set up directly in front of an unoccupied pair of chairs which of course instigated a confrontation.

Wags was already tugging me back toward the parking lot and I know better than to disturb his momentum once he has found it, but I could about imagine what was being said -- with much gesticulation, I might add.

Now, I know that this issue came before the Board of Aldermen this past year and that some possible ordinance changes were floated out there, but I can't remember if any of them actually passed. Perhaps someone can enlighten me here?

At any rate, I think it is important that all beach users understand their rights. The umbrella renters cannot lay claim and if chairs are not being used you may ask the guy/gal in charge to move them if you want to use that space.

There are things both sides can do to make sure that these confrontations happen less-frequently.

Beachgoer - Don't be a dickhead. If there is plenty of good (i.e. near the water) beach space left, use it. But if there isn't, ask politely for the umbrella/chairs to be relocated. Politely is the key word here. And give the guy a few minutes to get it done before escalating to the "move it now or I will move it for you" stage.

Beach Service Owner - Make sure all of your employees understand the laws and the spirit of Texas open beaches. Remind them that they represent your company and South Padre Island as well. If folks have a bad experience on the beach it reflects badly on our whole community.

Umbrella guy/gal - When in doubt, just move the damn umbrella. Yeah, it's a pain but if you get into a shouting match with a beach user I guarantee that you have just entered a battle you cannot win. Oh - and please properly dispose of your water bottle fast food wrapper trash instead of assuming that someone like me will come along and pick up after you.... thanks.


4 Comments:

Blogger Sam said...

Just got back from the beach ... yes I see it happening all over again. Sometimes the war seems to be between condos that have or contract for umbrellas in front of their units, and these freebie-yahoo independents come in and just start drilling holes to put up their umbrellas.

Why on Earth they do this right in front of the beach access points is a mystery, and I'd like to see an ordiance come back to prohibit umbrellas in front of the Town beach access easements. Give us some air, man!

The ordinance being considered was something like the "five minute rule," I think, where a vendor could be ticketed if a set-up was left vacant for more than that long. That was deemed as being absurdly silly in the extreme, since many people go off into the water or build sand castles.

My suggestion, if you remember, was that all umbrella vendors had to have a permit and known areas with a fixed amount of rental units. After all, the Town already regulates "soliciting" on the beach (in fact, it darn near prohibits it!).

This should have been done back in the winter or early spring. Unfortunately, our Board of Aldermen never came to cloture on the issue and we have to complain like hell once again.

I don't mean to sound harsh or disrepectful, but does this sound like a broken record or what?????

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Freebie-Yahoo Independants? What does that mean?

Sorry but open beach means open beach - the condos should not be able to "contract" with companies to line the beach with unused umbrellas and chairs thereby "protecting" their residents from the riff raff and reserving beach space in case the residents chose to use them. The condos do not own the beach nor should they be able to control who sets their umbrella on the beach or where they set it.

Beach umbrellas and chairs provide a "service" to some beach goers. However they are and continue to be a "problem" for other non renting beach goers. So I guess the Umbrella Wars will continue as no one seems to be able to come up with a workable solution.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I didn't say it right, Stephanie, and you're right. Here was my thinking:

According to Paul Cunningham, the beachfront owners actually own the land down to the mean high water line set by the GLO. The GLO "owns" all submerged coastal lands in the State of Texas. I think that's pretty much a fact but I might (again) be mistaken.

What you get access to is the beach below the mean high water line. The GLO also manages the fore-beach that includes the area from the mean high water line to the vegetation and "historical use" line but does not own it (Dune Protection Act, etc.). The Town has an agreement to help manage this land between the mean high water mark and the historical building line but doesn't own it, either. That would be the B&D Committee.

If you look at it that way, the condo and home owners along the beachfront do seem to have some legal rights to put up their umbrella stands first. Sorry to use the "yahoo" term to describe other legitimate business interests.

Please let me know if I'm way off base here - I've been known to do that before! /Sam

7:38 PM  
Blogger Brian Mikiten said...

Sam beat me to the punch but I'll take this opportunity to agree with him to save some space.

The bigger issue here is the attitude of the beach vendors. I'm between two beach access points (on jupiter) and found the usual clumps of people immediately on the beach yesterday but few between the points. I'd like to see fewer vendors out there and more of a beach experience that is condusive to a friendly beach environment.

What are their rights? What do we do if they have 10 empty spots and private people want to use them, whey can't we?

Brian

11:53 AM  

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