Friday, August 15, 2014

Flood Risk and the Miami-Dade Urban Development Line

Several days ago I wrote about how Miami's climate change flood risk is the latest rational for development.  Much akin to the 1970's urban blight.   I'd like to follow up on the assignment of Commissioner Rebeca Sosa to the Sea Level Rise Task Force.

In 2013, Sosa voted to move the Miami-Dade's contentious Urban Development Line westward.

The switch from Ruvin to Sosa for chair of the Task Force is telling of Miami-Dade County's politics.   Ruvin has long been a proponent of environmental protection and specifically to that pertaining to the Everglades.  His Task Force report advocated for protecting the Everglades.  Sosa, clearly does not feel quite the same about the importance of leaving the Everglades undeveloped.

As shown in the satellite image above, the region is wetlands.  To build on it requires draining the land.  More recent residential development shows the land drained to create "waterfront" properties.  These are high flood risk properties.

The image below (taken from this report) shows regions of Miami-Dade and the era of which they were developed.  The red shows progressive movement into the Everglades.

Florida's entire economy is rests on the assumption that population will continue to grow.  Population is assumed to drive real estate development and jobs.  The below image is frequently reproduced by the Florida Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research.  
However, the wetlands are prone to flooding and impacts from sea level rise.  So, while Florida grows its population and Miami puts them in flood prone areas, the state's flood risk grows.

This puts Miami in an interesting situation.  On one hand it advocate for a perspective of growing flood risk due to climate change.  On the other they seek to develop high flood risk areas while the state attempts to develop an "affordable" private flood insurance market.  These goals are incompatible.

It will be interesting to see how this continues to develop.

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