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July 20, 2018
Sea leveling: Miami takes on rising tides

Photo: Daniel Portnoy

Wayne Pathman: "Unless there are solutions to infrastructure, in some areas you may not be able to get insurance."

Miami-Dade Roundup

Sea leveling: Miami takes on rising tides

Experts predict that the Atlantic Ocean will rise two feet by 2060 — putting the western half of Miami Beach under water. Because of the region’s porous limestone base, water is expected to rise from underneath the ground as well as in the oceans — so even taller, stronger seawalls won’t protect it.

Wayne Pathman, co-founder and managing partner of Miami-based law firm Pathman Lewis, is a land use and environmental lawyer and chairman of the Miami Sea Level Rise Committee and the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. Pathman argues that the business community and local governments need to work together to plan for these eventualities.

» Rising Levels: “In Miami Beach, we’ve already experienced flooding from king tide. We get more frequent heavy rainstorms than we have in the past. Sometimes during king tides you can see the water barreling over the sea walls.”

» What’s in Store: “One foot to 2 feet of sea level rise changes nearly everything — such as how the ships at the ports will float. Most of the main causeways to and from Miami Beach — like the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle — are low-lying. (And) it’s not just the coastal regions that will be impacted. About 40% of Miami-Dade is still on septic, so those areas will be impacted. (Western Miami-Dade) areas were part of canal systems, with glades and marshes, and those don’t exist today. Those areas are low-lying and they are all areas that will be impacted.”

» Economic Concerns: “I think the first things you’ll see changing are, in the next 10 to 12 years, flood insurance becomes more costly. I think banks will start to charge more and ask for excess insurance (on mortgages they write). Unless there are solutions to infrastructure, in some areas you may not be able to get insurance. And once the sea level has risen, unlike hurricanes, it’s constant.”

» Solutions: “We need to put some of those canals back in. We need to learn how to move and store water again. Today, the best solution is to raise roads and raise buildings higher and to not build in high-risk areas that are low-lying.”

» Development: “We continue to build large infrastructure projects throughout the county that don’t take into account sea level rise issues, so we’re going to be spending more money in the future.”

» Government’s Role: “Government practices dealing with zoning and building and developers need to work together. There are potential public-private partnerships to build infrastructure that can contain future flooding and sea level rise. Incentives need to be given to developers. You can’t make it just the burden of developers to build differently because they’ll build somewhere else. It’s not going to happen with one government or the other developers doing it alone.”

» Obstacles: “Gov. Scott does not allocate any resources to dealing with the issue.”

» Zoning Changes: “In Miami Beach, they’ve raised their base flood elevation from one to five feet — so a developer has the right to build a base five feet higher, and it won’t count toward the overall height of the structure.”

» Hospitality and lifestyle company Nikki Beach Worldwide hired Thomas Brosig as president. Founder Jack Penrod continues as chairman and CEO. Brosig had been a strategic consultant in the hospitality industry.

» HistoryMiami Museum promoted Jorge Zamanillo to CEO from director. He replaced the retiring Stuart Chase.

Obituary

Sunglass Hut Founder Sanford Ziff

Optometrist Sanford L. Ziff founded Sunglass Hut as a kiosk in Dadeland Mall and grew it to $100 million in sales before selling it. He was also one of south Florida’s most important philanthropists, donating to organizations including the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Florida International University, University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University, Camillus House and others. He died in January at age 91 of complications relating to a stroke.

Business Briefs

AVENTURA — Peer-to-peer boat-sharing and licensed captain platform Boatsetter raised $13 million, with which it will expand sales and marketing efforts.

EVERGLADES — Congress approved the Central Everglades Planning Project, which will help restore the flow of water between Lake Okeechobee and the southern Everglades and Florida Bay. The federal and state governments will split the $1.9-billion cost.

HIALEAH — New city legislation aims to spur development of transit-oriented districts with dense, mixedused projects around the Market Station Tri-Rail stop and Transfer Station, home to both Tri-Rail and Metrorail stops.

MIAMI — SPV Realty has proposed a mixed-use project on 22 acres it owns in Little Haiti. The project would include buildings as tall as 28 stories, with nearly 380,000 square feet of commercial space, 2,798 residential units and 418 hotel rooms. » New Jersey-based Net2Phone acquired messaging and live chat technology company LiveNinja. LiveNinja’s 14-person staff will remain in Miami. » The for-profit Atlantis University will more than triple the size of its campus and headquarters when it moves to the city’s Health District this summer. The university offers business- and technology-related degrees. » Producer Jorge Granier, of CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” and two partners launched Póngalo, a Spanish-language subscription digital streaming service described by its owners as “Netflix for Latinos.”

MIAMI BEACH — Businesses along South Beach’s Ocean Drive agreed to new city rules that include a ban on sidewalk hawking, street vendors and promoters offering fliers, coupons, products or services. The rules also establish a fivefoot pedestrian pathway amid the sidewalk seating and require restaurant workers to attend hospitality training. » The city commission suspended plans for a 2-mile-long light rail system that would ultimately have linked with transit to mainland Miami.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY — The Foreign Trade Zone Board and PortMiami Foreign Trade Zone gave the 79th Street Corridor approval to operate as a Foreign Trade Zone.

Players

» Hospitality and lifestyle company Nikki Beach Worldwide hired Thomas Brosig as president. Founder Jack Penrod continues as chairman and CEO. Brosig had been a strategic consultant in the hospitality industry.

» HistoryMiami Museum promoted Jorge Zamanillo to CEO from director. He replaced the retiring Stuart Chase.

» A new, $19-million Key West City Hall officially opened in January.

Tags: Miami-Dade

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