Monday, December 26, 2016


Local residents, including ocean front homeowners will benefit from St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore -- Congress needs to pass the study in 2017, so we can preserve and protect our nature and history forever, helping plan to cope with ocean level rise and stronger hurricanes.

Posted December 25, 2016 04:50 am
Oceanfront homeowners seeking immediate, long-term protections after Hurricane Matthew

Several oceanfront homeowners at Tuesday’s meeting of the St. Johns County Commission said information and action are two commodities that have been slow to come by following Hurricane Matthew.

More than two months after the Category 3 storm swept the coast, the county estimates more than 500 homes (many of which are damaged and/or exposed to the whims of the ocean) remain at risk.

Officials say all 42 miles of the county’s beaches experienced erosion with sand loss estimates north of 3 million cubic yards as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

Meanwhile, short- and long-term plans for restoration, renourishment and maintenance of the beaches are at various stages of development.

Linda Chambless, vice president of the South Ponte Vedra/Vilano Beach Preservation Association, said she and other members are asking state legislators for help “given the extreme amount of damage and the fact that our beaches have never received state funding in support of the sand project.”

She said Flagler County’s commission chair spoke at an appropriations committee meeting in Tallahassee last week and suggested one of St. Johns County’s commissioners do the same.

Resident Robert Franskousky said the barrier island protects St. Augustine, a state road and scenic highway, as well as a north-to-south evacuation route.

He said it was important the county and other stakeholders create a long-term vision for protecting the properties along the decimated coastline.

“We’re in imminent danger,” Franskousky said.

He and others also expressed concerns about heavily eroded beaches, confusing or muddled processes and the effect damage and inaction might have on property values.

Franskousky said Hurricane Matthew came right through the foundation of his property and that there was no recourse via state statutes to protect his destroyed home except putting up a four-by-20-foot wall, “which does absolutely nothing.” He said despite being fully insured and paying “enormous” premiums, all of his insurers are running.

He said the first estimates he received to build a seawall came in around $311,000, assuming no help from neighbors, and about $200,000, assuming their help. However, he said even that would be a complete waste of time and money.

“I think we need to rethink this wall strategy,” Franskousky said. “We need, absolutely, one wall to protect the beach.”

Neal Shinkre, public works director for the county, told The Record last week that seawalls have been discussed, but not as an everyday item.

“We have not done anything to propagate that venture from the county’s standpoint,” he said. “I’m trying to get sand. I’m trying to protect the homes. I’m trying to do dune replacement.”

Shinkre said there are several more immediate challenges the county is focused on for the time being than figuring out what a solution involving seawalls may look like.

“But we are looking with the end in mind,” he added.

(For a two-part report on St. Johns County’s efforts to restore its beaches before and after Hurricane Matthew, go to for Part I and for Part II.)

Resident Andrew Brown said there were not as many permits issued for temporary coastal armoring as officials had expected because of a backlog in obtaining emergency services and getting assessments and surveys done.

He said he recently received a letter from an appraiser indicating his property value is zero. He said he expected many of the 520 homes deemed destroyed by the county would receive the same valuations.

“We want to be able to re-establish our property values, to bring them back, but we need to know the county is going to be following us,” Brown said, adding he and others have talked about a Municipal Service Taxing Unit and that they’re open to such funding options.

Another resident said she’s lost over half of her property to periodic dredging of the St. Augustine Inlet and other factors over the past decade.

“We have taken property losses, quietly, for 10 years now, and we’ve paid rising taxes on that lost property,” she said, adding she felt she’s been patient enough with lawmakers and continuing to pay for repairs and restoration out of pocket.

While waiting for the government to step in, she said she’s also struggling with insurers who are turning their backs.

“There are little clauses in those 47 pages of our policy that deleted our home from coverage,” she said.

Ivan Juric, displaced from his South Ponte Vedra Boulevard home due to the hurricane, said he’s willing to spend “whatever it takes” to protect his home but that his hands are tied because of the bureaucracy involved.

“The government will not let me protect my home,” he told commissioners, saying state agencies have still not given him notice to proceed on a permit he had acquired in 2015.

Resident Joe Honeycutt said the cost of sand per truckload has gone up from $150 two years ago to $250 immediately after the hurricane and, most recently, to $550.

He said he and others are “living in fear” of what happens next, citing the impending start of nor’easter season and a shrinking window of time to get protections in place.

Officials said the majority of the estimated $151 million in damage to the county’s assets as a result of Matthew occurred at the beaches. What can be done about the beaches is expected to play a large role in the county’s upcoming talks with the Federal Emergency Management Agency about reimbursements.

Later on Tuesday, commissioners voted to extend the county’s declaration of a local state of emergency originally declared prior to Matthew’s arrival and renewed in five subsequent meetings. The proclamation, which can only be renewed in seven-day increments, allows the county to continue accessing state and federal assistance.

Howard White, building official for the county, said his department is making progress and continuing to sign off on emergency permits.

He said 10 applications for temporary coastal armoring permits had been submitted in the previous couple of days. (At the Dec. 6 commission meeting, White had said 40 temporary armoring permits were already approved with more applications pending.)

White told commissioners the need for measures available to the department under the emergency declaration was winding down and that lingering issues were largely localized to the beach area. He said he believed this would be the last extension of the declaration required.

Tom Reynolds
This better not be costing anyone but those residents who live there.

It is crazy to think that the ocean can do damage to homes built to close to the water.

Jody Bateman
I agree with Tom. If you choose to build in a precarious place such as the beach, I do not feel our tax money should be used to repair any damage that occurs due to your decision.
Try to help clear any legal hurdles should be as far as the County help goes. These folks made a decision to take a risk, knowing storms would be a problem at some time, sooner or later.

Here is a simple solution for them, move to North Dakota.

Mike Woodruff
Permitting should be facilitated as long as the owners are paying the bills. I agree with Tom and Jody. The 'beaches' in front of most of those houses are not easily accessible to the general public and building dunes and bulkheads would make them less so. Why should tax money be used to protect a private investment?

Listen, The wealthy beach front owners have had 2 very specific goals since the county has allowed residential buildings east of A1A and the essential destruction of Porpoise Point. First, we the common tax payer should subsidize their personal protection from the elements that, by the way, existed long before they decided to carelessly build on sand. I believe that even since biblical times it was not very smart to build in the sand. But our county allowed it anyways. Secondly, they want to privatize the beach, otherwise what they consider to be their back yards and they don't like people in it. I have watched this since the 80's and they have been largely successful. There are miles of beach that is inaccessible both in the north and south regions. There is limited parking available thus decreasing the amount of strangers in the wealthy's back yards. and let's not forget the tax payer beach re-nourishment program that has created a beach sand that only 4x4 vehicles can navigate. That only sharply reduced the amount of tax payers able to get to the beach owners back yard-I used to call my beach but it doesn't belong to me , the tax payer, it belongs to them exclusively and I have to pay, beg and buy a 4 wheel drive just to get to limited areas. When I was growing up here I would spend overnight, fish, camp, and collect periwinkles for stew the next day. Now...... well only the wealthy can get to their beach at night. make no mistake people eventually they will regulate you so much you won't even have the desire to go and then and only then will they finally be happy. Oh, yes back to the point...... they want us to pay for everything along the way!

Jack (sponger) Harvell
Ocean front homeowners seek middle class taxpayers to subsidize their housing despite the fact that we can't use "their beaches" because we have no access to them, they built on locations known to be at risk for storms, and continue to have their hands out shamelessly. They must be the "progressive elite".
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DA BlueBlood
Yup last I heard everyone else is in the swap. Guess we'll have to wait for Trump to drain it before we can build.

1 comment:

Warren Celli said...

Tom Reynolds said:

"This better not be costing anyone but those residents who live there.

It is crazy to think that the ocean can do damage to homes built to close to the water."

Is it crazy to think that methane gas will come out of your kitchen faucet if you live in the country?

Is it crazy to think your children will have asthma living in a suburb upwind of New York City?

Is it crazy to think you will suffer earthquake damage to your home if you are living in Oklahoma or oil in your water in North Dakota?

We are all in this together Tom. You might want to broaden your viewpoint, observe the oneness of us all, and consider that many coastal locations were settled ("chosen") long before we had a clue about global pollution.

Florida needs to start mixing all of that sand with concrete and begin building a close to the shore dike highway surrounding all of the lower elevations of the state.

Maybe your real target should be the extrevilism that has hijacked governments and allowed a few self anointed elite pig billionaires and millionaires to control the rest of us and grossly mismanage most all of our resources.

The xtrevilism that is presently denying justice to Michelle O'Connell.