Texas navigation districts and regional planning in the Texas Gulf Coast area.

G. Sidney Buchanan
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Texas A&M University, Sea Grant Program.

This article contends that navigation districts should not be regional land use planners or environmental policemen. With the proliferation of land use planning and environmental control agencies that has occurred in recent years, adequate institutional framework already exists to accomplish the goals of regional planning decisionmakers. On this policy question, this article will follow the advice of Edmund Burke and recommend that changes in the powers and governing structure of navigation districts be made "as nearly as possible in the style of the building". In reaching this conclusion, analysis will relate primarily to land that is within the boundaries of navigation districts but not owned by the districts or otherwise subject to district control under present law. To support its contentions, this article analyzes four major areas. First, the status of navigation districts under Texas law is discussed. This discussion details the history of navigation districts, their governing structure, and the major powers granted them under Texas law. Second, the significant areas in which navigation districts and the federal government function concurrently are described and analyzed. Third, the relationship of navigation districts to problems of environmental control are considered. Finally, specific policy recommendations are made concerning the role of navigation districts in regional planning affecting land use and the environment in the coastal area. As a continuing overview, attention focuses on an important economic policy question-to what extent should the cost of operating navigation districts be borne by the primary users of district facilities and to what extent by the general public through taxation or government subsidy? While not attempting to answer this question, the specific instances in which the question should be considered and some of the factors that bear upon its resolution are indicated.

regional planning, navigation, governments, government policy, transportation