Galveston, Texas, expected to approve history-defying development plans

The city of Galveston perches precariously on a Texas barrier island; some 8,000 people were killed there by a hurricane in 1900. But hindsight shmindsight! Officials are set to OK construction of over 1,000 acres of hotels and homes, the largest development in city history. Geologists hired to study the issue have strongly criticized the plan, questioning the wisdom of, for example, creating artificial lakes and boat channels that could help along surging waters during a storm. They also criticize plans to build right up against quickly eroding beaches. “Some of these houses won’t outlive a 30-year mortgage,” says study co-author Tim Dellapenna. Furthermore, the development would lie outside a concrete seawall built after the 1900 disaster. But most troubling, say geologists, is that developers aim to sever a key storm-shielding ridge — which city planners claim isn’t even there. Officials, says Dellapenna, “are choosing not to see anything that gets in the way of their precious tax dollars.”