Can Florida’s 216 Study Protect the Future of its Burgeoning Coastal Real Estate Market? - Law & the Land - Rabideau Klein

Can Florida’s 216 Study Protect the Future of its Burgeoning Coastal Real Estate Market?

Busy Florida real estate lawyers and agents may have a concern

While Florida has just hit another milestone by surpassing New York to become the second most-valuable housing market in the U.S. according to a new Zillow study, its inviting tropical lifestyle and resulting burgeoning population is exacerbating a continuing and very serious concern common to coastal communities—the future vulnerability of its residents due to continuing encroachment of sea levels, and its accompanying coastal flooding.

What’s at stake for South Florida real estate

Florida is now second only to California in total home values, ranking it one of the top ten states in the country in terms of home values. The total value of the entire U.S. housing market is 49% higher than it was before the pandemic. Home values in Miami have increased more than 80% since the start of the pandemic.

“Estimates suggest that over the next five years, our [Florida’s] population will grow by almost 300,000 new residents per year, over 800 per day. That is like adding a city slightly smaller than Orlando, but larger than St. Petersburg every year,” News Service of Florida and NBC6, November, 2023.

In fact, much of Florida’s most rapid population growth occurs in the communities lining the coasts of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Collier Counties and includes some of the most expensive real estate in the nation.

South Florida has a tropical climate and during its rainy season from May through October storm surges are common. Depending on the severity, they can bring about several types of issues from water-damaged multimillion estates, disruption and/or destruction of businesses, flooded and impassable roads, and damage to a city’s infrastructures, such as when an urban drainage system is overwhelmed and water flows into streets and nearby buildings. The more serious floods can destroy entire communities and cause billions of dollars of losses.

New study engineers solution for Florida counties through Flood Control Law

Currently, Miami-Dade and Broward counties employ a network of spillways to drain flood waters, but these spillways date from the 1950’s when Florida’s population was only five million. They rely on gravity to operate, and recent flooding has created water levels too high for the spillways to be effective.

Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) are working together to advance the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Flood Resiliency Study under Section 216 of the Flood Control Act of 1970. The Flood Resiliency Study recommends flood risk management projects to enhance flood resiliency, now and into the future, and reduce flood risks that affect population, property, and critical community infrastructure.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the SFWMD would install 20 pumps and make flood gate adjustments in the collection of canals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Jennifer Jurado, Broward County’s chief resiliency officer, is quoted as saying that the county should also consider making the canals larger so that they can hold more water for longer time periods.

Future sea level forecast

The Army Corps of Engineers is researching what life in South Florida might look like over the next century, and creating different models for low, intermediate, and high sea-rise scenarios and the SFWMD is also exploring its own modeling. Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that sea levels will rise an additional three feet by the year 2075.

The cost

According to SFWMD resiliency officer Carolina Maran as reported in the SSouth Florida Sun Sentinel, the plan proposal will cost billions. The cost to design, build and install each pump is around $100 million. The estimate doesn’t include other proposed changes such as expanding canal capacity.

Because of the high costs involved, the SFWMD is looking for funding resources from state and federal partners, and the Army Corps of Engineers is one such partner, providing both funding and the expertise needed to complete this massive project. The goal is to get the plan considered by the U.S. Congress for the Water Resources Development Act of 2026. The Corps’ chief of engineers must approve the recommendations before Congress can consider them for approval.

Certified by the Florida Bar Board in Real Estate Law, Attorneys David E. Klein and Guy Rabideau at have the expertise you need to ensure that your interests are protected throughout your real estate transactions in South Florida and across the state. Contact Rabideau Klein to discuss the legal implications of your next commercial or residential property sale or purchase.

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