South Florida is sinking  

My dad ran much of the planning for Broward County (one county north, home to fort lauderdale) until he retired a few weeks ago. There are a lot of dynamics at play in South Florida which make this very complicated and obviously an impending disaster.

The first is that while Broward County is progressive and has been proactively dealing with and planning for sea level rise, Miami Dade county has a very large Cuban voter base which tends to sway the politics more center if not altogether right. I always postulated that this is mostly a reaction to the communism that they immigrated away from however it is my opinion that the newer generations will slowly move more to the left (granted, this phenomena is probably larger than just SoFla’s cuban population).

As the article mentions, most of South Florida is built on top of limestone (calcified reefs from a previous geological period). The water table is only a few feet below the surface hence there are at least two major reproccusions for sea level rise. In older neighborhoods (Hollywood, anything east of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge [what I95 is built on]), a high tide + rain typically stalls the drainage system with water flooding streets and homes.

A second major problem is that the Biscayne Aquifer, the water supply for the millions of people in South East Florida, is experiencing salt water intrusion due to higher sea levels. You can think of the aquifer as sort of a dome with its highest point farthest inland and as the sea level rises the dome is getting skinnier. Even while I was growing up, they were decommissioning water well fields because of the salt content starting with the most coastal and moving inland. Inland suburbs in Broward like Sunrise are then selling their water to the other municipalities for a killing but at some point even they will have issues as the aquifer becomes squeezed.

As far as development and the housing market, a big driver of change for the middle class housing market I believe is going to be insurance. Wind storms and the accompanying flooding are eventually going to make living there more expensive and insurance policies less affordable.

Another issue will likely be tourism as it is largely tied to its environment. As the everglades experiences rapid salt water intrusion, the reefs continue to be bleached due acidification, and mangroves migrate inland slower than sea level, the productive estuaries might become less productive for popular sport fish and commercial species. Another major industry in South Florida is the boating industry which has tons of demand generated by fishing, scuba, and general ecotourism. As those generators are put in jeopardy, there will without a doubt be a ripple throughout the economy.

Lastly, county governments (which are the most substantial government players in South Florida) will begin to experience issues because their expensive properties closest to the water are the biggest contributors to the tax base. As those low lying areas are flooded more frequently, there is a very real possibility that the value of all the mansions lining the streets and canals drop.

My view of South Florida is rather bleak but even if Miami Dade and Broward manage to figure out sea level rise, I doubt the Florida Keys have much of a chance.

Time to figure out how to short real estate.

And Lebron left


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