Thursday, January 2, 2020

Climate Change - Is it Time to Start Retreating from the Florida Keys?

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

There is probably nowhere in Florida a place more vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise than the Florida Keys.
Warming oceans and melting ice sheets are raising global sea levels. Here is a great overview from The New York Times By Christopher Flavelle and Patricia Mazzei Florida Keys Deliver a Hard Message: As Seas Rise, Some Places Can’t Be Saved
Florida is a state significantly vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise. The Florida Keys, most of which are barely 3 feet above sea level, are especially vulnerable.
As sea level rises in Monroe County home of the Florida Keys, local and county government officials continue the puzzle. What is the best approach?
Recently, Monroe county has requested assistance from the state of Florida. The assistance request includes funding for elevating roads and streets and access to the new Florida fund which provides funding for the purchase of the sea-level rise endangered property.
Obviously, emotions run high for the property owners and everyone thinks the government has the obligation to protect them and their property, but the fact of the matter is the cost for that is just simply prohibitive.
Going forward it’s going to be impossible for state or local officials to protect all the property in the Florida Keys from the sea-level rise if the sea-level rise predictions are even close to being accurate.
It is beginning to look like the Florida Keys may well be the test bed for how Florida's local, county and state governments are going to deal with the pending sea-level rise problem.
Monroe County could be the spot where the basic plans for dealing with rising tides, and sea level are developed.
It is extremely important the State takes the lead and not let individual local and county governments create a patchwork quilt of methods and approaches, which ultimately must be sorted out by the courts.
The Florida State Legislature should develop the legal framework in the form of a statute that will deal with property abandonment, acquisition, imminent domain, buyouts, restoration, and economic compensation for loss.
The question is what to do and who are the prime players. On the players, sides are property owners, insurance companies, relators, developers, mortgage holders, local governments, and the state.
Principal among the provisions of any state statute should be the limitation or elimination of real estate commissions on local, county and state flood prone real property acquisitions. This should not be a realtor get rich program.
The question is what’s the best approach, the best and most cost-effective ways for governments to acquire flood prone real estate and properly compensate owners.
The point is now is the time for the state legislature to act before the methodology and the process to acquire flood prone property becomes a bigger disaster than sea-level rise itself.
Key West Photo Photo:Rob O’Neal/Florida Trend Magazine
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