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TITLE 31NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION
PART 1GENERAL LAND OFFICE
CHAPTER 15COASTAL AREA PLANNING
SUBCHAPTER AMANAGEMENT OF THE BEACH/DUNE SYSTEM
RULE §15.8Beach User Fees

(a) Eligibility. Local governments shall not initiate or amend a beach user fee unless the governing body of the local government with jurisdiction over the area subject to the fee has a state approved dune protection and beach access plan.

(b) Reciprocity of fees. Within each county, local governments are required to establish a state-approved system for reciprocity of fees and fee privileges among the county and the different local governments authorized to charge beach user fees. The establishment of a system of beach user fee reciprocity shall be a condition of state approval of local dune protection and beach access plans.

(c) Amount of beach user fees.

  (1) A local government shall not impose a fee or charge for the exercise of the public right of access to and from public beaches. A local government may charge beach users a fee in exchange for providing services to beach users in general. A local government may only impose a beach user fee if the fee is reasonable taking into account the cost to the local government of providing public services and facilities directly related to the public beach. A reasonable fee is one that recovers the cost of providing and maintaining beach-related services. In addition, any fee collected for off-beach parking to provide access to and from the public beach is considered a beach user fee.

  (2) Local governments shall not impose a beach user fee which:

    (A) exceeds the necessary and actual cost of providing reasonable beach-related public facilities and services;

    (B) unfairly limits public use of and access to and from public beaches in any manner;

    (C) is inconsistent with this subsection or the Open Beaches Act; or

    (D) discriminates on the basis of residence.

(d) Beach user fee plan. A local government that proposes a new or amended beach user fee shall first prepare a plan that includes, at a minimum, the following information:

  (1) a description of the current beach access system within its jurisdiction demonstrated through evidence such as photographs, surveys, and statistics regarding the number of beach users;

  (2) a listing and description of all existing beach user fees charged by the local government and by all other local governments in the same county;

  (3) all legal authority, including local ordinances that authorize the collection of existing beach user fees;

  (4) an analysis and statement of how the proposed user fee is or is not consistent with state standards set forth in this subchapter for preserving and enhancing public beach access;

  (5) how the beach user fee relates to beachfront construction, vehicular controls, and parking, and dune protection within the jurisdiction of the local government;

  (6) a statement of any short-term or long-range goals relating to the collection and use of beach user fees.

(e) State agency approval of beach user fees. A local government shall not impose a beach user fee or amend an existing beach user fee that is inconsistent with the beach user fee portion of its dune protection and beach access plan. To receive state approval for initiating its beach user fee plan or amending a beach user fee, a local government shall submit its beach user fee plan to the General Land Office and the attorney general's office no later than 90 working days prior to any local government action on the beach user fee. The General Land Office shall certify whether the initiation or amendment of a beach user fee is consistent with this subchapter and the Open Beaches Act. Certification of consistency shall be by adoption into the rules authorized by the Open Beaches Act.

(f) Beach user fee revenues. Revenues from beach user fees may be used only for beach-related services. For each fiscal year, a local government shall not spend more than 10% of beach user fee revenues on reasonable administrative costs directly related to beach-related services. Each local government shall send quarterly reports to the General Land Office stating the amount of beach user fee revenues collected and itemizing how beach user fee revenues are expended. The General Land Office may prescribe reporting forms or methods. The General Land Office shall suspend the local government's privilege to collect fees and shall revoke approval of any pertinent dune protection and beach access plan if the beach user fee revenues have been spent on services which are not beach-related. Reports are due no later than 60 days after the end of each quarter of the State fiscal year.

(g) Beach user fee accounts. Local governments shall use the following methods for administering beach user fee accounts.

  (1) Beach user fee revenues shall be maintained and accounted for so that fee collections may be directly traced to expenditures on beach-related services. Beach user fee revenues shall not be commingled with any other funds and shall be maintained in separate revenue accounts.

  (2) Beach user fee revenues shall be maintained in a separate revenue account and documented in a separate financial statement for each beach user fee. Beach user fee revenue account balances and expenditures shall be documented according to generally accepted accounting principles.

(h) Free beach access. Local governments that collect a beach user fee for on-beach parking or driving or for off-beach parking for beach access shall maintain free public beach access by providing areas where no fee is charged for parking on or off the beach and for pedestrian access. This requirement applies to each state-approved dune protection and beach access plan, not to each local government with jurisdiction over the public beach.

(i) Access for disabled persons. Local governments shall establish, preserve, and enhance access for disabled persons as provided by law, including §15.7(h)(5) of this title (relating to Local Government Management of the Public Beach). The General Land Office may provide guidance recommending additional measures to preserve and enhance access for disabled persons. Provisions for access for disabled persons shall be included in local government dune protection and beach access plans.

(j) Identification of fee and non-fee areas. For any local government collecting a beach user fee for on-beach parking or driving, both fee and non-fee beach areas shall be conspicuously marked with signs that clearly indicate, at a minimum, the location of both the fee and non-fee areas and the identity of the local government collecting the fee. In addition, maps identifying fee and non-fee areas shall be provided to the public by any local government collecting a beach user fee.

(k) Coordination with other beach-related plans. The beach user fee plan shall be a part of a local government's beach access and use plan required under the Open Beaches Act, §61.015, any vehicular control plan required under the Open Beaches Act, §61.022, and any dune protection program required under the Texas Natural Resources Code, Chapter 63. The General Land Office requires local governments to combine and integrate these various plans.


Source Note: The provisions of this §15.8 adopted to be effective February 17, 1993, 18 TexReg 661; amended to be effective April 16, 1996, 21 TexReg 3004; amended to be effective January 31, 2010, 35 TexReg 489

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