Floating Cabin Issue On Oso Bay Shows Solid Cooperation Between Boat Dweller and Law Enforcement


Matt Briscoe
Publisher
The Southside Light

Flour Bluff—Drive down around the Oso Bay turnaround and you are almost sure to a little homemade floating cabin moored fairly close to shore. Some say that the floating cabin is unsightly. Some are even arguing that the vessel is a safety concern to boaters and those that use the little peninsula for launching their own small craft. But as there always is, there is more to the story. 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens confirmed on Tuesday that they have been in contact with an individual who is residing on the boat. They also confirmed that Wardens have been working with the resident, CCPD and authorities from the General Land Office who owns the short strip of land, to get the vessel relocated to a more permanent home. 

But the looming question in the minds of at least a few in the area is if the vessel even being there is legal in the first place? The short answer is yes. In this particular case, aside from permitting issues it didn’t exactly appear that the waterfaring resident is breaking the law. 



For clarity, Game Wardens noted a state statute regarding floating cabins that was  passed some years ago. Senate Bill 1573 of the 77th Texas Legislature created the Coastal Floating Cabin Program and placed it under the authority of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, a "Floating Cabin" is defined as a structure securely moored in the coastal water within state boundaries that is used for habitation or shelter and not routinely used for transportation. The term includes all mooring lines, anchors, anchor lines, spuds, and pilings and any other tethering devices. 

The permitting for floating cabins gets a little tricky and only permits issued on structures that were in place prior to August 31, 2001 are allowed to be in the program, according to the statute. The rules also state that the owner of a floating cabin cannot allow the cabin to obstruct navigation, damage an oyster reef, serpulid reef, seagrass bed or rest on the bottom or shoreline at high tide. 

The question arises in general, as to how close a boat can come to your own personal property line? Wardens say that as long as the vessel is on public water and not attached to the property itself, the operator is not in violation of state law. In short, public waters like those found in Oso Bay are fair game to boaters who wish to use them. 

As for the boater who is currently calling the Oso home near the turnaround, officials said that they hope to continue working with the boater and that soon, he will have his boat motor repaired to the point where he can get it relocated and into more permanent situation. 

More information on floating cabin regulations can be found by visiting the Texas Parks and Wildlife website .

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