By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The Miami City Commission took their first political step regarding protections from sea level rise. On March 28th, the commission approved the city’s first bill addressing rising sea level concerns as the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board unanimously recommended the law be approved.
Legislation passed in January and one final reading was conducted in March. The proposal included plans to redevelop and reconstruct functional residential structures out of the flood plain. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Base Flood Elevation is the “computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood.”
With added freeboard, the structure would sit up to five feet above the Base Flood Elevation. Previous zoning code required just one foot of freeboard. Additionally, the ordinance will allow bonus first floor height for businesses and establishments located on the ground floor. That amendment makes it possible for business owners to better adjust to potential changes in response to sea level rise.
“We know the sea is rising. We know the climate is warming,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber admitted last month. “We accept, obviously, those science propositions, but we’ve turned to scientists and engineers to say ‘Well, what can we do about it?’ And we’re following what they say.”
The county is also launching a series of workshops addressing sea level rise. Miami-Dade County is calling for public participation to help identify ways to adapt to sea level rise.
Local experts will be in attendance as well to answer questions and moderate. Key questions that will be addressed, according to the Office of Resilience, include: “What strategies are best suited for different neighborhoods? What are the benefits and trade-offs of different adaptation strategies? What projects and policy changes can be implemented in the short term?”
In this initiative, Miami-Dade partnered with Greater Miami & the Beaches Resilient Challenge and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Four public workshops are expected to occur in April with the last concluding in July.
The next workshop coincides with the Baynanza Biscayne Bay Cleanup Day. The workshop and clean up initiative take place at the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay on April 13th from 10AM to 2PM. Those unable to attend are encouraged to complete an online survey to give feedback.
In a 2018 study the Union of Concerned Scientists found that flooding exacerbated by sea level rise will, by the year 2045, threaten 12,095 homes in Miami Beach valued at $6.4 billion.