Budget conference: St. Johns County gets sea level rise mitigation money

Dune restoration, property buyouts are in the budget.

House and Senate budget conference chairs have agreed to send $17.5 million to St. Johns County for two projects dealing with erosion and sea level rise.

Ponte Vedra Beach would get $12.5 million for another round of dune restoration. Meanwhile, $5 million would be spent just a few miles south, a local match for a “managed retreat” from the seaside in the Summer Haven community.

Sen. Travis Hutson championed both projects. While the budget will include the full $5 million requested in the latter case, the $12.5 million is only half of what Hutson wanted for the dune project.

Regarding the North Beach spend, the project “provides a long-term protective solution to the progressive deterioration of North Ponte Vedra Beach, which continues to suffer extraordinary damage from waves, erosion and inundation caused by coastal storms over the last 6 years.”

The “full beach nourishment project” envisions an “engineered beach with a vegetated dune system … to protect private property and vulnerable ecosystems, and to sustain recreation and tourism opportunities.”

The $12.5 million appropriation adds to $5.2 million in already provided state funding and $8.2 million in local funding. Expectations are the project will begin in July 2023 and finish within a year.

The $5 million for Summer Haven, meanwhile, amounts to a governmental bailout of people who bought beachfront homes despite what the funding request calls “persistent critical erosion” amid “unsuccessful federal and state efforts to stabilize the beach.”

The funding request claims 830 people will be served, though it is unclear how many actual properties will be bought out. The funding is for “acquisition only,” to replace the waterfront homes with a “successfully managed beach.”

No timetable is provided for the property acquisition.

The budget is still being finalized and if the Session is to finish on time, it will need to be done by Tuesday for the mandatory 72-hour cooling-off period before Sine Die Friday.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

One comment

  • Publix cashiers can afford a mortgage Ed 👍

    April 29, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Need to make more of St. Augustine look more like St. George Street and immediately surrounding area up King Street east of US-1. Bulldoze houses in Lincolnville and build mixed use development similar to what you would see in Europe. Shops on the ground floor with residential on the second floor. All similar architecture. Also bulldoze a lot of the 1930’s shacks North of King Street east of US-1. Otherwise buy out anyone who wants to sell close to the beach on both barrier islands. Road is caving in on Vilano Beach and it’s a threat to human safety. Hurricanes are only getting worse.

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