Santa Barbara, CA, Officials Prepare to Release Sea Level Rise Battle Plan

Sea level rise is a threat along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. Officials in coastal communities are increasingly waking up to the threat of sea level rise-driven flooding and creating plans to combat it to protect real estate and their way of life.

Officials in Santa Barbara, CA, are putting finishing touches on a report due to be released next month that will include recommendations on how the city can mitigate sea level rise flooding damage. According to an article in The Log, a publication for California boating and fishing enthusiasts, the report will call for changes to the harbor breakwater, a program to more closely monitor the shoreline, and raising the city pier and marina facilities.

Without the modifications, experts predict sea level rise will claim the city’s sandy beaches by 2060 and the harbor will become unusable by 2100. Read more here.

Sea Level Rise Picks Up Pace in South Florida and the Keys

The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact is warning member governments from Palm Beach County to the Keys to start planning for 17 inches to 31 inches of sea level rise in the next four decades. The group released data at its annual meeting in Key West last month that increased sea level rise projections an additional 3 to 5 inches over previous forecasts.

Chronic sea level rise flooding already has Keys officials considering instituting a managed retreat, where the government buys out real estate and abandons roads. Many coastal governments are considering retreat as an option, especially in areas where maintaining infrastructure is considered too expensive for the number of residents served. The challenge if finding the money to purchase the distressed real estate and convincing owners who don’t want to sell. Read more in this Bloomberg Environment article.

NOAA Official Says It’s Time To Call It “Sea Level Rise Flooding”

An official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told a Boston-area newspaper that it’s time to stop calling the chronic tidal flooding that’s plaguing coastal communities “king tides.” William Sweet, an oceanographer with the agency, told the Patriot Ledger that king tides — higher than normal tides that occur due to an alignment of the earth, sun and moon — have always been around, but they’ve only started to flood many locations in recent years. “We might as well call it what it is,” he told a reporter. “It’s sea level rise flooding.” The Patriot Ledger article by Jessica Trufant does an excellent job of explaining the sea level rise flooding problem and the threat it poses to coastal real estate.

2019 Ends with Sea Level Rise Flooding on the Map

As a licensed real estate agent, experienced journalist, and avid reader of sea level rise-related media report and studies, there’s one major transition I’ve noticed in 2019: sea level rise flooding is shifting from a nebulous scientific fact to a has-to-be-addressed-now reality.

After decades of reading studies describing how sea level rise will one day impact our world, I’m seeing more and more reports from cities and towns all along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastlines that are now being forced to deal with actual sea level rise flooding that’s impacting real estate and critical infrastructure. (Search the term “sea level rise flooding” online, and you’ll see what I mean.) Of special note is the fact that the coverage is also shifting from storm surge events, where hurricanes, tropical storms and other extreme occurrences send floodwaters over land, to so-called seasonal king tides that due to an alignment of the sun and moon cause flooding even on the sunniest of days.

In South Florida, where I live, not too long ago king tide/sea level rise flooding was easy to hide. It occurred mainly in the fall and only seemed to affect a smattering of vulnerable neighborhoods. Now, the flooding is occurring with greater frequency, for longer periods, and with increasingly harmful effects. The now very obvious flooding is starting to set off alarm bells for public officials and private and commercial real estate owners as they come to realize that sea level rise flooding is going to get worse in the years to come.

To try to help buyers, sellers, owners and real estate agents to get a firm grip on the nature of the problems posed by sea level rise flooding, I wrote “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” and released it this month in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com.

The book explains what sea level rise flooding is, and the threats it poses to real estate buyers, sellers, owners, and agents, as well as communities and entire regions. For example, property owners who are experiencing actual sea level rise flooding can face increased home maintenance costs and the potential for their homes to lose value. These property owners and owners in areas that are experiencing flooding but whose property isn’t itself being inundated at this time are both at risk of ballooning flood insurance premiums and higher taxes, as governments try to rescue infrastructure by taking steps such as raising roads and water and sewer pipes, building higher sea walls and installing pumps. In addition, those who own property located in communities governed by homeowner’s associations and condo associations could also see a spike in dues and special assessments to fund remediation efforts.

The simple fact is sea level rise flooding will get worse in 2020. To protect their financial futures, buyers, sellers, owners and real estate agents in coastal areas need to get educated and stay informed about this challenge.

In the coming year, I will post the latest developments on SeaLevelRiseRealEstate.com and release an updated version of “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” in December.

Influential South Florida Newspaper Calls for Federal and State Leadership on Sea Level Rise

As South Florida and the Keys recover from a difficult season of king tide sea/ level rise flooding, the Sun Sentinel published an editorial earlier this month that listed the many challenges the region is already facing from flooding and the many ways federal and state leaders are failing to adequately address the problem.

Among the concerns are neighborhoods that were flooded for months during the fall because higher seas gave the floodwaters nowhere to drain, commercial flood insurance premiums jumping 18 percent a year in parts of the Keys that may put them completely out of business in five years, and threats to corals, birds and fish due to warmer ocean temperatures and acidification in a region that depends on the natural world for tourism.

The newspaper’s editors commended the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, which is comprised of South Florida and Keys county governments and governing bodies overseeing over 100 cities and two Native American tribes in the region, for demanding action now to take on the challenges posed by sea level rise flooding. They also commended Gov. Ron DeSantis for sending his chief resilience officer, Julia Nesheiwat, to the 11th annual climate summit held this fall in Key West, even if he had to cancel his appearance at the last minute due to “extenuating circumstances.” But they’re critical of Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio for making zero effort to attend or send representatives to help them address the problems. (Maybe they’ll overcome their climate change denialism when more of South Florida real estate is inundated.)

What’s clear from the editorial and out every-day experience in the region is that South Florida and the Keys need strong federal and state leadership and financial assistance to address sea level rise flooding NOW. Ignoring the threat rising flood waters pose to our way of life won’t make them go away. We’re at the front line of the battle against sea level rise, but other coastal communities in the U.S. are starting to wake up to the same siren.

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