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 below for more information.