Sunday, May 10, 2020

Climate Change - Is the Thinking in West Florida Focused on the Wrong Problem?

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

The COVID-19 virus has pushed a number of key issues to the back burner. Principal among those is the issue of Climate Change in Florida.

For some detail on the current thinking check out: Tampa Bay Times by Emily L. Mahoney: Tampa Bay area properties at high risk of losing value due to sea-level rise, report finds.

The Report cited in the Mahoney article  from the McKinsey Global Institute: “Will mortgages and markets stay afloat in Florida? is a must read.

The Report provides a global perspective in five major areas: Livability and Work Ability, Food Systems, Physical Assets, Infrastructure Services and Natural Capital. The Florida report is under Physical Assets.

The climate scientists have been warning us for years about the likely impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Florida.

The primary focus here is real estate property values, and the disclosure of information related to the current value and future value of real property.

In Florida there is no law requiring the disclosure of flood plain information. So, if you’re a home buyer and if you’re looking at beachfront or waterfront property, you may or may not be told by the seller or the seller’s representative the property status regarding flooding or climate change.

You can check out more of our climate change posts at BAYPOST Climate Change.

More importantly it is extremely critical that the real estate industry does not become the driving force in the climate-change  discussion in  Florida.

While no one would argue the importance of protecting property value, that cannot be the guiding principle of a climate-change  policy.

The building of seawalls, dikes and other physical flood preventative measures is, for the most part, neither practical nor cost efficient.

While there is certainly a place for the real estate industry in climate change and flooding discussions, in no way should they be in command of setting the climate-change response agenda.

 According to the Tampa Bay Times article, the Pinellas Realtor organization is establishing a voluntary program to inform homeowners and potential buyers about properties' flood risk, evacuation level and whether or not it requires flood insurance.

Currently, there is no indication that a similar program exists in the other major metropolitan areas along the West Coast of Florida.

The state of Florida has established a fund that cities and counties can request support from to provide money for purchasing sea-level rise in danger of waterfront property and converting it into green space.

This is more than likely the most cost-effective in the long run approach to managing the sea-level rise problem at or near the coastline.

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