Beach Access Fight Appears To Be Heading To Court
A lawsuit filed last week in Nueces County Court of Law Number 2 alleges that Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb may have breached a legally binding contract by closing area beaches.
In the pro se suit filed by local property owner William Rickertsen on Friday, Rickersten alleges that Judge Canales and Mayor McComb denied him vehicle access to the beach over Easter weekend by mandating a beach closure order for vehicles.
In his lawsuit, Ricketsen argued that the defendants (Judge Canales and Mayor McComb) broke the law by causing a breach of contract and that they used the coronavirus pandemic to justify their actions. Rickersten notes how there has been no actual proof that individuals gathering at the beach is causing a spread of coronavirus. To date, there has been no scientific proof validating that claim and now, Rickersten and others are arguing their point.
The lawsuits was filed last week when further restrictions came into light for Nueces County beaches. Mayor McComb and the City of Corpus Christi decided to reopen beaches within the city limits while Judge Canales felt obliged to further restrict vehicle access to county beaches.
Last week it also became clear that Judge Canales stuck to her style and began making decisions without consulting with at least some of the Commissioners. In a social media post from last week Precinct Four County Commissioner Brent Chesney said that he had not even been consulted about further restrictions and when he questioned Judge Canales for evidence supporting her position she was able to immediately provide any only to suggest that the evidence was in the works—and that has not sat well with beachgoers and sportsmen.
They have been outraged since the beginning and it seems that they have every right to be as local officials across the state are claiming that they do not have to seek Texas General Land Office (GLO) permission before closing the beaches. Local officials, like Judge Canales maintain that they are acting within their authority. But by virtue of the state constitution, many see that people Canales are violating their ability to access public beaches. Canales and her public relations team have seem to be ignoring the fact that even Governor Abbott has made it clear that there is no data suggesting that beach access is causing a spread of coronavirus but rather the activities surrounding going to the beach such as stopping at local grocery stores for supplies.
The reality is that there was not a significant spike in coronavirus cases in Nueces County until graduation parties took place in late May and early June, right about the time that Judge Canales was in quarantine for a potential coronavirus exposure. According to all of the data from the State of Texas more cases were caused as a result of gatherings at private residences than came from beach access.
We reached out to Mr. Rickertsen for comment regarding his lawsuit but have not gotten a response. Other groups are also said to be considering their own legal action against local officials for potential violations of the Texas Open Beaches Act.
As tensions between Judge Canales and the community continue to rise there have also been numerous petitions filed in addition to the current pending lawsuit.