Seawall Height Requirements

Fort Lauderdale is about to raise the bar for seawalls’ height requirement. 

Property owners who want to build or repair their existing walls should be prepared as rule changes are imminent, giving them minimum and maximum heights they must adhere too. New structures need to stand at least 5 feet above sea level while 6-feet tall ones will grant you additional protection against the rising seas throughout this century if needed - but those built before 2035 have until 2050 when a higher standard of 4 feet then applies instead. This strict regulation has some worried that many people won't know in time despite being required by law from Thursday onwards, possibly leading up into costly fines initiated by city authorities afterwards.

Fort Lauderdale is accustomed to water, with its extensive system of canals and waterways. In 2020 however, the city was presented with a new challenge: meeting Broward County's regulations requiring all coastal cities susceptible to high-tide flooding to raise seawall heights in two years or less. Many have already implemented these standards - Hollywood, Dania Beach Hallandale Beach Davie Deerfield Pompano Wilton Manors Oakland Park and Lauderdale-by-the Sea - ensuring their homes will remain safe and dry despite rising sea levels.

Despite the fact that Fort Lauderdale boasts 200 miles of seawalls, less than 2% are publicly owned. 

With new height rules being implemented throughout the city's waterfronts, Vice Mayor Warren Sturman has expressed his concern regarding people having to sell their properties as they may not be able to afford repairs or alterations needed on privately-owned seawalls if deemed necessary. This could ultimately lead to a decrease in available property and increased “For Sale” signs popping up around neighborhoods like Rio Vista.

Homeowners with deteriorating seawalls are facing a daunting financial hurdle — and the clock is ticking! It's estimated that it could cost an individual up to $125,000 or more for 100 feet of replacement wall. Unfortunately, there’s no federal help in sight either; if property owners aren't able to meet the one-year deadline they may have additional fines of $100 per day as well.

Jane McGowan questioned whether giving homeowners one year to replace their seawalls was feasible. She commented that "Seawall repair is a very specialized process; it's not something you can just hire any general contractor for." The time limit may be difficult to meet due to the current backlog of Seahwall contractors, as Glen Bryant - president at B&M Marine Construction in Deerfield Beach - suggested: “It takes around 6 months alone just to get permits". As such, this seemingly tight deadline could prove challenging and even unattainable.

With a deadline of one year for Intracoastal homeowners to complete seawall projects, Commissioner Glassman has reassured that the City will be understanding and sympathetic toward any hardships preventing them from meeting it in time. Furthermore, Fort Lauderdale is providing extensions if needed - meaning residents won't have anything to worry about when they can’t make their mark!

Glassman reminded residents that the recent rules put in place are not only to protect their own properties - it is also about protecting those of their neighbors. He stressed how water has a way of finding its path and emphasized why it's important for communities to work together on this project, by hosting an informative webinar with 5,000 invites sent out. Entitled "Do I Need to Raise My Seawall?", this session encouraged citizens to take responsibility for each other’s safety as part of one unified effort towards fighting flood risks caused by sea level rise.

To ensure residents were well-informed about the proposed changes to the city's seawall ordinance, an impressive array of public outreach was undertaken. 

In addition to hosting a webinar that saw over 120 join in and be recorded for later viewing on YouTube - garnering another 225 views - 8071 postcards were mailed out explaining the details; a social media video went out as well further fleshing things out. Despite these efforts however, City Manager Sturman still revealed concern they may not have reached everyone with their message: "They've done their best," he said, while Suzee Bailey (President of Nurmi Isles Homeowners Association) added bluntly “It’s pay now or pay later!”

With the threat of flooding and storm surge looming, spending money to protect oneself can seem like an expensive necessity. However, based on scientific research, these recommendations are designed for our safety- but at what cost if we decide not to take them? She understood how difficult it was for people trying to navigate this dilemma with limited resources - so she asked: What’s the price you will be paying then? 

Norway Nautical can provide all kinds of information on your seawall and guide you in the process from start to finish. Give us a call today!