Dilapidated houses in Surfside worry residents

A couple of dilapidated buildings in the Village of Surfside Beach have neighbors and visitors in that area launching a campaign to have the structures demolished.
August 16, 2013 4:08:38 PM PDT
Some beachgoers say the blighted beach homes in Surfside are not just eyesores, but also safety hazards. So why are they still sitting there?

Neighbors say they've been complaining about these homes back here for years, urging the city to tear them down, but city leaders say their hands are tied right now.

Surfside Beach, it's a spot where many families come for fun. But it's also a place where many parents like Casey Valderez say a major nuisance has them watching their kids very close. That nuisance is two dilapidated homes.

"We worry about things falling down from them, being on the beach, our kids being around them," Valderez said.

Neighbors across the village of Surfside Beach and regular visitors here say they've been complaining about the two abandoned structures left standing at the shoreline off Beach Drive for several years.

"Complete eyesore," visitor Kim Smith said.

The homes are covered with broken windows, dangling wires and rotting wood, among other things near where people swim and play.

"It would be really awesome if they could be taken down," beachgoer Christie Humphrey said.

But addressing the safety hazards these structures pose has been a challenge according to village leaders.

"At the moment we can't do anything," Surfside Beach Councilman Chris Gaschler said.

Gaschler says the village's hands are tied since the two homes have, for several years now, been at the center of a lawsuit over the Texas Open Beaches Act.

Neighbors say natural erosion pushed the homes to the water line. At issue is who has rights to the property.

"The only thing we can really do is just try to keep the people from underneath of them and make sure the police are around and pick up all the debris and stuff, try to make it as safe as we possibly can for the public," Gaschler said.

A spokesman from the state's general land office told Eyewitness News he believes village leaders could enforce local ordinances to address public safety concerns with the dilapidated homes.

Some Surfside Beach lovers are now hoping an online petition can help get these buildings demolished. And in addition to an online petition, a group called the Surfrider Foundation is hosting an August 25 rally to try to get these homes removed.

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