Galveston, Texas, has adopted revised setback requirements for new construction near the beach, according to a report in the Galveston County Daily News ("Galveston tightens beach-front construction rules," by Rhiannon Meyers). Already under consideration before 2008's Hurricane Ike, the new rule gained momentum after Ike swept away many beachfront homes, and eroded shorelines to put other homes closer to the water than before.
Under the new rule, new construction will have to stay Back 75 feet from the north toe of dunes, or 350 feet from the mean high-water line, whichever line is farther landward.
The new rule also applies closer scrutiny to the man-made artificial dunes that some property owners have constructed to replace natural dunes destroyed by the storm. Some of these constructed dunes are smaller and less vegetated than a natural dune, reports the Daily News; under the new rule, man-made dunes that are a different size, shape, or appearance from a natural dune can't be used to determine beach setbacks. (The Texas "Open Beaches" law that limits construction near the shore does not draw any distinction between a naturally occurring dune and an artificial one.)
Galveston's new rule echoes a measure adopted three years ago by authorities in Nueces County, which includes the city of Corpus Christi, south and westward on the Gulf coast from Galveston. Nueces County officials welcomed Galveston's vote as confirmation that they were "doing things right," according to a report in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times ("Galveston matches Nueces County's dune protection rule," by Jessica Savage). Fred McCutchon, chairman of the Nueces County Beach Management Advisory Committee, told the Caller-Times, "we had the foresight to plan for growth rather than deal for houses that are on the beach or in the water because of erosion and storm surges."
Meanwhile, work continues on teardowns of properties bought out with funding from FEMA. Houses more than 50% damaged by flood typically can't be rebuilt with federal flood insurance payouts, but may be eligible for government buyouts, with the land being devoted to other uses.