Longboat Key Town Is Tackling Rising Sea Levels


Longboat Key, Florida | May 15th, 2018 – Months before the peak of the hurricane season between August and October, Longboat Key Public Works officials are planning emergency beach renourishment at the erosion-prone north end of the island. According to these officials, increased beach deterioration has been observed in this area since last year’s visit of storm Irma.


One particular concern is the beach area north of Broadway Street where sands have been observed as disappearing at a fast rate because of wave and tide action after Irma hit Florida’s coastal areas September 10 last year. Officials are regularly monitoring the rate of erosion specifically at the area near the two groins at the edge of North Shore Road. Built up with sand fill in 2015, these structures were designed and constructed to prevent sand erosion at the island’s north-end shoreline.


Beach management alert


Longboat Key Town Is Tackling Rising Sea Levels - Judy Kepecz-Hays Selling Luxury Real EstateBeach access in this area is increasingly becoming more difficult with each passing day, the officials said. Beach loss due to high tides has gotten to the point that the sands washed out have already exposed the base of the southernmost groin. During high tide, the waves now crash on a seawall only yards away from one building. Already, some residents are wary that the beach erosion if not checked would adversely affect the integrity of beachfront buildings.


Thus, the island’s Public Works Department is expediting the town’s beach management consultant’s annual survey to determine the beach renourishment timetable. It would also provide information on how much sand would be needed for the precautionary measure versus beach erosion.


Higher seawall for waterfront houses

Longboat Key Town Is Tackling Rising Sea Levels - Judy Kepecz-Hays Selling Luxury Real EstateIn a related development, the Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Department has proposed amending its height restrictions on rebuilds and repairs of seawalls of waterfront real estate properties in the island. The department’s proposal would allow barriers a foot and a half higher than what is allowed at present. An extension of six inches into the water would also be permitted in the proposed new rules.


The department finds it necessary to raise the barriers after noting that many seawalls in Longboat are already aging and somewhat low. Some of the old structures which have been replaced, it was observed, were susceptible to flooding especially during king tide or storm surges. This problem has arisen because the six inches that the local code allows as an added height above adjacent walls are not enough, according to some Longboat Key residents.


NOAA sees waters rising


The potential impacts of sea level rise shall also be taken into consideration in the proposed ordinance to raise allowable seawall heights in Longboat. This aspect is of critical importance as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sees sea levels rising by an average of one inch per year. NOAA attributes this trend to melting glaciers and ice sheets, and to ocean volume expansion as the water warms.


Setting seawalls to just at the right height, therefore, is quite important. These structures have to be built capable of withstanding wave action for decades, with many of the seawalls needing to last over 50 years. Moreover, seawall projects don’t come cheap and their cost can range between $10,000 and $50,000.


These property features are hence among the weighty elements when buying or selling real estate located waterfront in Longboat Key. As luxury and waterfront specialists for Sarasota and her islands, the Judy Kepecz‒Hays team can provide the expertise on deals involving these prized properties. Call or e-mail us if you’re inclined to buy or sell a coastal residence in Longboat or elsewhere in Sarasota.


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