Skip to Main Content
Where will sea levels be in 20-30 years? What do we do to prepare?
Resident comment quoted during City of Fort Lauderdale Visioning Initiative Open House, 2011

On August 10-13, 2014, regional stakeholders from across Southeast Florida joined Dutch, national and local experts in a collaborative design effort focused on improving community resilience to climate change impacts through innovative design strategies. The four-day event titled “Southeast Florida Resilient Redesign Workshop” was co-hosted by the four County Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Miami chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Miami Center for Architecture and Design. Approximately 50 experts, from the diverse fields of architecture, civil engineering, transportation, urban development, hydrology, environmental planning and hazard preparedness, came together to consider the climate challenges and design opportunities for three representative southeast Florida landscapes, with development characteristics ranging from dense urban to suburban. An area located in the City of Dania Beach was among the study areas.

Teams toured each site and then met for several days in an intense design session to create physical and planning adaptations that took into account sea level rise, severe storm and storm surge, preservation of historic and community character, economic assets and population projections, capacity of natural infrastructure and related benefits.

At the end of the four-day event, the teams of experts presented their conceptual designs and recommendations to a group of local stakeholders. Solutions offered were deemed appropriate for our region and worth further consideration. Excitement over the concepts was shared universally among participants. The ideas generated are valuable – as they help us to recognize and dissolve assumptions, think big, and inspire us to embark in new directions in our evolving discussions about the possibilities for regional and local resilience in South Florida.

Implementation Process

Fort Lauderdale has incorporated Adaptation Action Areas (AAAs) into the City’s policies and plans. For example, AAAs are included in the City’s vision, Fast Forward Fort Lauderdale Our City, Our Vision 2035, interwoven into strategic operations through the Press Play Fort Lauderdale, Our City Our Strategic Plan 2018, and included in budget and planning activities. The process our municipality underwent to adopt AAAs policies included extensive community outreach, talking early and often with members of the community about the implications and benefits of AAA designation. Throughout this journey, staff reached out to City Commissioners, the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations, neighborhood groups, property owners, residents and business owners, providing many opportunities to obtain input and develop community awareness of the challenges of climate change and potential solutions to reduce risk and improve resilience.

Following the December 2014 adoption of an amendment incorporating AAAs language into the City of Fort Lauderdale Comprehensive Plan, the City’s next step was to designate specific AAAs. Designation indicates that a location is being prioritized for infrastructure improvements in order to reduce risk to assets experiencing coastal flooding and that are vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise. These infrastructure improvements can range widely, from the installation of tidal valves to incorporating sea level rise projections into the design of new construction capital projects. The designation of AAAs in Fort Lauderdale will be directly tied to the City’s Community Investment Plan to realize the nexus between the need for resilient infrastructure improvements and funding.

Implementation Timeline

In 2013, the City of Fort Lauderdale, in collaboration with the South Florida Regional Planning Council and Broward County, served as a pilot community to test the development and advancement of adaptation policy options, including its integration into the City Comprehensive Plan as a text amendment. The City Commission provided final approval to amend the Comprehensive Plan’s Coastal Management Element and Administration Element to incorporate Adaptation Action Areas (AAAs) language in October 2014.

The intent of the amendment is to increase the City’s resiliency to the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels by providing the foundation and framework for the development and implementation of adaptation strategies and measures in order to reduce risk to these challenges.

In January 2015, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity recognized the City’s adopted comprehensive plan amendment.

A “Designated Adaptation Action Areas and Projects” map is currently being developed. The map will be reviewed and updated annually by staff for inclusion in the City’s Community Investment Plan and City Commission funding consideration in September of each coming year.

Implementation Funding

Policy development was made possible through funding from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). As a result, the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC), Broward County and the City of Fort Lauderdale collaborated to research Adaptation Action Area implementation strategies and adopt AAA policies.

Following completion and fulfillment of the grant in December 2014, City of Fort Lauderdale staff has been developing a “Designated Adaptation Action Areas and Projects” map that will include both AAAs as well as those capital projects furthering the City’s adaptation and resiliency capacities within those AAAs. Ultimately, the City will either fund or pursue outside funding for implementation of the capital projects identified.

Community Benefits

Building upon the City’s leadership in the area of sustainability, the use of AAAs is a tool being integrated into operations to combat coastal flooding and reduce risk to rising sea levels. The designation of AAAs is an example of how residents’ ideas and support coupled with the best available data integrated into the 2035 Vision Plan, can be transformed into action through proactive informed policy-making in order to build community today and meet the challenges of tomorrow. AAAs are a mechanism to identify neighborhoods at risk and improve climate resilience.

The Facts

Quick Facts & Statistics

  • The Adaptation Action Areas initiative is responsive to City residents, as reflected in the 2014 Neighbor Survey that indicated our residents are well informed about climate change issues and the impacts to our community. An impressive 57% indicated they have observed coastal water level increases and 52% indicated they have observed increased flooding. Satisfaction with the City’s efforts to prevent tidal-related flooding increased over previous years’ Neighbor Survey results. However, it still remains low with only a 31% satisfaction rating.