Florida Sea Grant Coastal Planning Program
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Registration Deadline for SE FL Sea-Level Rise Legal Workshop
Registration closes November 10th for the workshop “Sea-Level Rise and Flooding: Planning & Law for Local Governments” on Thursday, November 16, 2017 in West Palm Beach. The workshop is designed for local government leaders and staff, attorneys, engineers, planners, and floodplain managers who want to understand the practical and legal issues local governments confront in planning for sea-level rise and increased flooding. The full-day workshop includes professional credits for AICP planners, floodplain managers, attorneys, and engineers. A complete agenda with time, location, directions, and speakers appears at this link on Florida Sea Grant’s website and registration is available at the Eventbrite registration page. Do not delay registering--registration closes NOVEMBER 10.
National Flood Insurance Program
Still in the News

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria only added to the NFIP's $25 billion debt, leading to a "forgiveness" of $16 billion of the NFIP's debt to the U.S. Treasury to ensure that the program would have enough cash to pay claims. At the same time, the NFIP needs to be reauthorized by Congress by December to continue functioning. On Monday, November 6, the House Rules Committee passed H.R. 2874,  and expected to be voted on by House as early as November 9.
News coverage seems to indicate that the proposed bill does not fully satisfy any specific interest group. Without fully parsing the 92-page bill, some key points from the legislation include:
  • Extends the NFIP to Sept. 30, 2022;
  • Voluntary state participation in flood affordability programs; participating states would have to add surcharges to policies to cover any assistance to low-income households that receive relief under the program;
  • Adding an option for monthly installment plans to pay premiums;
  • Require that all polices are accompanied by a clear indication of the property's flood risk determination and number and value of all claims from the property;
  • Authorizes FEMA to engage in a community-based flood insurance pilot program;
  • Promotes growth of the private flood insurance market through numerous provisions;
  • Provides for mandatory, annual actuarial review;
  • Caps pre-FIRM yearly increases at 6.5%;
  • Provides $1 billion for mitigation activities (buy outs, elevation, etc.);
  • Faster increases for premiums for multiple-loss properties;
  • Prohibits new policies for new construction in special flood hazard areas beginning in 2021.
Bill in Florida Legislature Particularly Relevant to Sea-Level Rise, Planning, and Our Coasts
Florida Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Dist. 37) filed Senate Bill 70 on August 9th. The bill would require that any construction project with state funds in certain coastal areas would require analysis and publication of potential sea-level rise impacts to the project before construction could begin. While the grapevine has it that this bill does not have a great chance at passage this session, seeing this kind of forward-looking concern for our state investments represents a positive change.

Florida Wants to Import Sand from the Bahamas

This article from SLATE details how SE Florida, already trucking in sand at great expense from the interior of Florida, now wants to see a change in law at the federal level to allow importation from the Bahamas. Currently federal law effectively prohibits use of imported sand, but the SAND Act (Senate Bill 279) would alter current law to authorize importation of sand for federal projects without limitation.

The benefits to southeast Florida would be much cheaper sand for renourishment projects. However, the Slate article notes that not everyone supports this: the U.S. dredging industry is not excited since this could threaten their virtual monopoly on dredging activities. In addition, in light of the world-wide sand shortage, environmental justice concerns could loom large if the U.S. begins to consume the very sand resources that the Bahamas itself may need for adaptation to rising seas.

Legal Ruling Stops Parking & Driving on Beach in Treasure Island
An October 27 ruling from Florida's Second District Court of Appeals (Case No. 2D14-5406) affirmed in part and reversed in part a holding of the Circuit Court for Pinellas County that the City of Treasure Island would no longer be allowed to host events that included driving and parking on the beach. The appeals court agreed that organizing parking on the beach and allowing driving to such parking violated state statute prohibiting beach driving. However, the appeals court overturned part of the trial court's decision that would have prohibited any use of vehicles for event set-up.

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