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This May, the Surfrider Foundation in Florida had two major victories- one in public access and another in coastal preservation.
Public Access Victory
In April, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection opened their Beach Management Funding Assistance Program for review and updating. This rule dictates how local governments receive funds for their beach nourishment projects. The proposed changes cut the public access criteria by 50%. Previously, in order to qualify for funding, projects were eligible if they had 100 public parking spaces. The new rule would allow projects to qualify with only 50 public parking spaces. After participating in three public meetings and submitting numerous comment letters, the Department of Environmental Protection has reversed their original changes and returned the original 100 parking space minimum.
Coastal Preservation Victory
This legislative session, we worked as a member of the Stronger Safer Coalition, which advocated for reform of Citizens Insurance and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (CAT Fund). Reforming Citizens would help reduce subsidies for coastal development in high risk areas, like barrier islands. On May 29th, Governor Rick Scott signed SB 1770 into law. The new law ends state subsided insurance for new construction or substantial improvements seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line or within the Coastal Barrier Resource System. Governor Scott commented, “This legislation will bring much needed reforms to better protect the taxpayers who support Citizens Property Insurance…. Additionally, this law helps protect the environment by removing subsidies for new construction in environmentally sensitive coastal areas.”
Great work, Florida Chapters!