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Seawall Maintenance

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The City of Fort Lauderdale updated its seawall ordinance (ULDR Section 47-19.3) on June 21, 2016 to establish construction standards that ensure that seawalls contribute to coastal resilience and mitigate the effects of tidal flooding and sea level rise. On December 6, 2016, the seawall ordinance was modified (Commission Agenda Memo CAM 16-1414)  to clarify provisions related to the height of docks and the criteria for determining whether an improvement constitutes a substantial repair. 

In late September and early October 2015, the City experienced unprecedented flooding during the seasonal King tides. King tides generally occur in the fall when the alignment of the sun, moon and earth generate higher than average tides. Local weather conditions including onshore winds, rising sea levels, and extreme precipitation can combine to exacerbate flooding risks, especially in low-lying coastal areas.

At the October 6, 2015 Conference meeting, the Commission discussed concerns with the flooding and its relationship to seawalls, noting that the extreme tides in September 2015 suggested that the maximum seawall elevation may not be adequate. Staff provided a review of the topic at the November 3, 2015 Conference meeting (CAM 15-1391). At that time, the Commission requested that the City revise the seawall ordinance to set a minimum seawall elevation requirement.

Staff worked with numerous stakeholders, including the Marine Advisory Board, the Council of Civic Associations, the Board of Adjustment, and other neighbors to update the existing ordinance to improve community resilience. As sea level continues to rise, higher well-maintained seawalls will address short-term flooding caused by king tides.

Enforcement of the ordinance supports climate adaptation policies in the City of Fort Lauderdale Comprehensive Plan and the resilient neighbor vision described in Fast Forward Fort Lauderdale 2035. The ordinance included two provisions under which a property owner may receive a code violation:

1. Failing to maintain a seawalls in good repair and setting a timeline of 365 days for completion of repairs if cited; and
2. Requiring owners to prevent tidal waters entering their property from impacting others properties or the public right of way and setting a timeline of 365 days for remedy if cited.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions pdf below for more information. 

Expand/Contract Questions and Answers

  • Why was the City of Fort Lauderdale seawall ordinance updated?

  • Why did I receive a citation under Section 47-19.3 Boat Slips, Docks, Boat Davits, Hoists, and Similar Mooring Structures?

  • What do I have to do to comply if I was cited for having a seawall in disrepair?

  • What is the substantial repair threshold?

  • What do I have to do to comply if I was cited for failing to prevent tidal waters from flowing overland and leaving my property?

  • What are the other options other than raising my seawall?

  • I don’t have a seawall, why was I cited?

  • Where can I get more information?

  • Can the City provide a list of licensed contractors?

  • Under what conditions would property owners be required to raise their seawall to the new minimum height of 3.9 feet NAVD88?

  • Can I build my seawall higher than the minimum elevation of 3.9 feet NAVD?

  • My seawall is cracked. Do I have to replace the whole wall and bring it up to the new elevation?

  • Can I just add a cap to my existing seawall?

  • What if my finished floor is below 3.9 feet NAVD88 and I have to raise my seawall to that elevation?

  • What is the cost of seawall replacement or repair?

  • Does the city, county, state or federal government offer funding for private property owners to repair their seawalls?

  • Can I use Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funding to repair or replace my seawalls?

  • What are the consequences for not complying following citation for a seawall violation?

  • Does the City assume any responsibility for seawall maintenance/repairs when public infrastructure (such as an outfall pipe) passes through a privately owned wall?

  • How is the City addressing flooding over its seawalls?

  • When will the City raise its seawalls?

  • Why does it take the City so long to repair or replace a seawall?

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