Can the Florida Keys Afford a Building Boom when They’re Searching for Ways to Retreat from Sea Level Rise Flooding?

Just when a law that’s been on the books since the early 1970s intended to prevent over-development in the Florida Keys is about to prevent new building projects, a state legislator is proposing legislation that could result in a building boom.

According to a Miami Herald article, Representative Rob Rommel, R-Naples, filed an amendment that would increase the hurricane evacuation time for the Keys to 30 hours from the current 24. Under the existing law, the evacuation time limit actually works as a cap on the number of buildings that can be constructed in the Keys. The expectation was that the Keys would be totally built-out by 2023.

According to the article, the new legislation is meant to stave off potentially billions of dollars worth of legal costs if property owners frustrated that they won’t be able to develop their real estate holdings sue the state and county governments for fair compensation.

If the longer evacuation time is approved, officials in the Keys worry that it could result in a building boom that would in turn make it harder for people to evacuate the Keys ahead of a hurricane and make it much more difficult to deal with sea level rise flooding.

County officials in the Keys made headlines last fall when they said sea level rise flooding may force them to abandon roads that are under water for much of the fall king tide season. The problem is so bad that officials there plan to use $20 million in federal funds to buy out and destroy homes wrecked by Hurricane Irma that are vulnerable to sea level rise flooding.

If the Florida state government clears the way for a building boom in the Keys, buyers will have to perform due diligence to ensure the property they intend to purchase isn’t at risk of sea level rise flooding.

Author: Larry Richardson

Larry Richardson relies on his journalism, real estate, photography and videography experience and education to create SeaLevelRiseRealEstate.com and annual editions of "7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions for Buyers, Sellers, Owners & Real Estate Agents." Richardson, an inactive but licensed real estate agent in Florida with a dozen years of experience, also owns StepByStepChef.com, which features YouTube videos with over 10 million views