Where Miami might undo development to deal with sea-level rise

Proposals would return developed land to nature in the Shorecrest neighborhood

Flooding in Shorecrest (Credit: Carl Juste / Miami Herald)
Flooding in Shorecrest (Credit: Carl Juste / Miami Herald)

Shorecrest might become the first neighborhood in Miami where efforts to deal with sea-level rise would include demolishing structures in areas prone to flooding and returning the land to nature.

Scientists and government officials who participate in the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact have considered alternatives to installing pumps and raising streets to protect such low-lying neighborhoods as the Arch Creek area of North Miami, Lower Matecumbe Key and Shorecrest.

Their proposed solutions for Shorecrest include government acquisition of residential property in the neighborhood’s southeast corner and conversion of the property to a low-elevation park designed to hold floodwater. The plan would be executed on a voluntary basis, not through eminent-domain proceedings.

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In addition, changes to zoning laws and building regulations would encourage construction in high-elevation sections of Shorecrest, which is located about three feet above sea level along Biscayne Bay. Real estate developers would qualify for taller and denser projects by forgoing property rights in low-lying areas.

The proposed action in Shorecrest also would include raising busy roads, elevating and reinforcing sea walls, and installing pumps.

However, pumping floodwater from city streets into Biscayne Bay can cause environmental damage. Research by Henry Briceño, a hydrologist at Florida Atlantic University, shows elevated contamination in parts of the bay where pumps in Miami Beach deposit floodwater. [Miami Herald]Mike Seemuth