Tag Archives: waterfront

How To Make your Waterfront Property Accessible

by Lucy Hudson

The total value of waterfront homes was $134 billion in June 2018, according to an article in Forbes. The same article indicates that due to changing climate conditions, changing tastes, and bounce back of non-waterfront homes, the overall average sales price of homes has gone down. However, waterfront homes are still the epitome of luxury and an enjoyable holiday retreat for people on vacation. So focus should be on making your waterfront home climate change proof and accessible so that it can be more comfortable for both you and potential tenants.

IoT technology for convenience

The easiest way to explain the Internet of Things (IoT) is that it involves smart devices communicating with each other in a network. Smart home devices come in the form of appliances, electronics, and speakers, which enhance independent living — especially for people with mobility problems and disabled people. For example, there are smart coffee makers that automatically start making coffee every morning, and window blinds that open and close themselves. There are also thermostats that adjust themselves automatically and learn your routines, and lights that go on and off without you touching a light switch. You can take control of these devices with an app on your phone, or simply use voice control to turn them on and off.  Personal assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home allow you to control various devices using voice control.

An entryway that is friendly to everyone

Placing a mat that says “welcome” at your front door will do nothing to help people with mobility problems get to your door or through it any easier. If a person using a wheelchair cannot access your home via the stairs, then ramps are a great solution. A modular ramp is great for all types of stairs and entrances. These ramps are usually made of high-grade aluminum, are semi-permanent, durable, and easy to maintain. However, if you want to make a ramp one of the primary features of your home, you can opt for a permanent wooden ramp. A permanent ramp is a better option for beachfront elevated homes. The ramps make it easier to get to the door but the entryway should have door frames that are at least 32 inches wide. If not, use offset hinges on the door to allow it to open wide enough to fit a wheelchair.

Don’t forget the bathroom

Accessible features that you can add to your bathroom include showers with rolling seats for people who cannot stand, and grab bars for balance. The shower should also be well lit and have a hand-held shower head with a 60-inch hose. To reduce the risk of slipping in the shower, install a non-slip floor and a walk-in tub. The soap, lotions and other stuff you use in the bathroom should be placed in an area that is easy to reach. In addition, install a riser on a toilet to make it easy for people to use who have trouble bending.

There are many other things that you can install or add into a waterfront home to make it accessible. However, it’s best to start by adding features that make movement in your waterfront home easy for people who are disabled or have mobility problems as they are the most in need of improvements.

Create The Ultimate Relaxing Coffee Setup

by Lucy Hudson

Poets, painters, and writers have long celebrated the calming effects of being near the water, but recent science backs up the idea that water has a soothing effect on our psyches. Indeed, coastal living has been shown to improve our sense of physical and emotional health: it simply helps us relax. Now imagine yourself embracing relaxation with a warm mug of coffee in hand, gazing out across the rippling lagoon, or the crashing waves, and feeling utterly at peace. Once you’ve purchased and fixed up your dream waterfront home, next you’ll want the perfect coffee setup to become the embodiment of your zen-self.

Find The Coffee Variety To Match Your Personality

Do you like to start your day with a bold brew to wake up your senses? Try a dark or French roast coffee that tends to have a richer aroma and full-bodied flavor. But if it’s a pure caffeine boost you seek, lighter roasts can often pack more of a punch, as less of the mass of the coffee bean has been roasted away. The main difference between light and dark roast beans, however, is in the flavor, and a lighter roast tends to taste more acidic yet more fruity and nuanced. Of course, you might also prefer your coffee to taste more like dessert, in which case, flavored varieties like hazelnut or vanilla might suit you and pair well with a dose of sugar and cream. There’s also a wide array of decaffeinated coffees for any flavor profile.

 Make Coffee A Conversation Piece

Today most grocery stores sell a variety of coffee beans all with interesting sourcing stories – locally brewed; fair trade organic; artisan. Try exploring coffees from different regions and roasted by different producers to see what you like. It can be a joy to relax on your porch overlooking the water, sipping coffee from a far-flung region and comparing tasting notes with a companion. There are also many coffee subscription clubs you can now join to sample different beans every month.

Choose Your Brewing Method Wisely

There are quite a few ways to brew a relaxing cup of joe, so choose the method and the gear that suits your lifestyle. If you want a quick, single cup, you might opt for a single-serve brewer that takes pods or cups. It’s by far the easiest way to get your coffee fix, but the downsides are that the brew tends to be weaker, and there is considerable packaging waste involved. Another great option for the single-serve solution is a pour-over cone. This simple method relies on the slow drip of the coffee through a cone you place over the cup, but the trick is you cannot rush it. To get a rich brew, you must pour the hot water gradually through the coffee grounds. If you’re making coffee for two or more people, a French press is fairly simple and makes for a more full-bodied cup. Meanwhile, a traditional drip coffee maker makes a less bold coffee, but is pretty foolproof to operate, and has the important benefit of keeping the coffee warm until you’re ready to serve it up. Once you’ve selected the ideal gear for your coffee station, make sure you know the appropriate grind size for your coffee apparatus. It can make all the difference in your coffee being thick, ick, or just right.

 Claim Your Coffee Zone

Now that you have the best beans, the brewing gear, and an aromatic cup of joe in your hands, it’s time to retreat to your water view spot to enjoy a moment of zen. Designate a spot on your deck, or a seat near the window, with comfy, reclined seats for two and a side table for coffee cups and crossword puzzles. Sit back, sip…and enjoy!

How to Control and Prevent Humidity and Mold in Waterfront Homes

by Lucy Hudson

Every home requires maintenance, and homes in warm, humid climates are no different, especially when it comes to mold. While studies don’t show that mold is more prevalent in waterfront homes than normal ones, studies do reveal that in any given home across the United States there could be one of thirty different types of mold present. Since fixing mold damage is a time and money-consuming project, it’s best to take preventative action before it gets out of hand. The great news is, however, is that it’s pretty easy to prevent as long as you’re mindful about it and put in a little effort.

Clean Regularly to Get Rid of Pollutants

While you probably clean your waterfront home regularly, if you aren’t doing it in the right way, you’ll miss a lot of the small, microscopic toxins that are floating or lying around. Mold is one of the most prevalent and dangerous of these toxins and can cause nasal and sinus congestion, a chronic cough, and even eye irritation. When scrubbing your walls, especially in damp areas like the laundry room or basement, you’ll want to use a non-ammonia cleaner or dishwashing soap and water to remove mold and other small spores that can cause respiratory problems. Using a HEPA vacuum cleaner or air cleaner is a good idea after washing any area of your home in order to remove any leftover mold spores floating around in the air.

Check Humidity Levels

Becaise most waterfront properties are situated in areas that are likely to be more hot and humid, you’ll probably already have a high-quality HVAC system you to cool your home. This is great, as cool air holds less moisture than warm air, and with the right A/C unit you can ensure your waterfront property is receiving dehumidified air. Industry professionals refer to this as exfiltration, and certain HVAC systems will provide you with better exfiltration abilities than others, as well as the ability to monitor the humidity levels in your home. If you live in a particularly humid waterfront area, it’s a good idea to invest in a smart humidity monitor that will alert you if the place gets too humid. Normally, these levels should be between 35% and 50%, but in really humid climates you might have to live with levels up to 55%.

Monitor Your Home Regularly

Preventing mold in a humid climate is something that you might always have to deal with, but it’s so easy to do that the myriad benefits of a waterfront property greatly outweigh that one small task. By properly cleaning your home regularly to avoid the buildup of dust and other pollutants, you can ensure that you’re not providing mold with an environment to thrive in. Investing in a humidity monitor and the right HVAC system will then help keep your property at the perfect temperature and humidity level to enjoy all of the stunning waterfront sunsets comfortably inside of your home.

Make Your Waterfront Home Perfect for Your Pooch

by Lucy Hudson

There are very few dwellings that can compete with the sheer splendor of a waterfront home. If you own one of the nearly 69 million pet dogs in the USA, a house near the water can be especially appealing as many dogs innately love playing in the water, according to the American Kennel Club.  Even if your dog is not exactly keen on swimming, he or she can benefit from having a large, natural area in which to play. With the enormous joys of living in a beautiful waterfront home comes the responsibility, however, to make it as dog-friendly as possible. Luckily this can be easily achieved by combining a good dose of dog-owner common sense with a few handy additional tips.

Fresh drinking water is a must

Dogs, like humans, are very much dependent on fresh drinking water for their survival. When living near a large body of water many pet owners make the incorrect assumption that their dog can simply drink water from the stream, lake, or ocean when he is thirsty. Although a dog will inadvertently swallow some water while frolicking in the ocean, it is important to remember that salt water can be very dangerous to canines when consumed in large quantities. Always ensure your dog has plenty of fresh drinking water at his disposal, both inside and outside of your house, and take along a bottle of water and a suitable water bowl when planning to spend extended periods of time away from home.

Have a basic first-aid kit on hand

Living in a waterfront home is a true blessing. There are, however, also a number of hazardous situations that can present themselves to a dog owner, making it essential to be able to treat basic illnesses and injuries in an effective and timely manner. A trip down to the beach is a great adventure for just about any dog who loves to dig in the sand and rush into the water. While waterfront homeowners generally have great respect for the environment, not everyone shares the same sentiment. This sometimes results in the area being littered with a range of harmful objects such as broken glass and fishing hooks that can injure an unsuspecting dog. Or, if you live near the ocean, your dog could possibly incur a painful jellyfish sting which will undoubtedly require some medical attention.

Tiles are better than carpets

The flooring inside your home is a very important consideration if you are a pet owner.   If there is one lesson that living in a waterfront home will teach you, it is that a wet dog and carpeted floors are definitely not a match made in heaven.  As much as you undertake to keep your pooch out of your house when wet or dirty, any dog owner can vouch for that it is a lot easier said than done. A tiled floor is, generally speaking, a much better choice for a waterfront home as it is not just dogs that trample in sand and enjoy spending time in the water. It is important to remember that, although tiled floors are definitely a lot more practical, they can be slippery when walked on with wet feet.  Invest in absorbent mats to put outside your doors and keep a couple of towels nearby to dry both yourself and your dog off before entering the home.

Our canine companions are as deserving of safe, comfortable living spaces as we are. When the necessary precaution is taken to make your home as dog-friendly as possible, your entire family, including your beloved pooches can thoroughly enjoy living in a gorgeous waterfront home.

The Ultimate Housewarming Party For Your Waterfront Home

by Lucy Hudson

A housewarming party is a perfect way to celebrate your new house with family and friends. It is also the perfect opportunity to meet your neighbors and make new friends in the area. Your waterfront home is something to be really proud of and having a party will show your space at its best. Here are some great ways to make sure that your housewarming is one to be remembered.

Install beautiful lighting

When you have a home on the waterfront, you are surrounded by beautiful reflections. You can use this to your advantage when you’re throwing a housewarming, and create a truly atmospheric backdrop with lighting. If your party is in the evening, fill your home with soft sheen lamps or candles in tea light holders. This is even more effective if you have decking in front of your home leading to the water. Your lighting will be reflected in the surface of the water, giving a feeling of even more space. Another way to make your home feel bigger and to focus on the water is to decorate your home with mirrors. It will give your housewarming a modern feel and fill your living area with reflections and subtle illumination.

Serve delicious local cuisine

One of the most wonderful things about living near the water is the availability of seasonal, local food. You can delight your friends by serving them a variety of fish or seafood. Provide your guests with delicate canape style dishes that they can eat while socializing. For instance, marinated shrimp or delicate white fish on skewers will look dainty and taste divine. If your housewarming is a casual party, having a barbecue is a great way to show off the local cuisine and guests can even help with the cooking.

Take the party outside

On a warm summer evening, take your housewarming party outside to look out over the water. Invest in some extra deck chairs, or canvas director’s chairs, that you can get out when you have friends and family over. Put a bar outside so you can serve drinks to your friends, or fill some ice boxes with beers for a more casual party. It’s a good idea to put some citronella candles outside to keep away the insects. They will also fill the air with a wonderful scent. If you are planning an outdoor party, make sure you start an early evening, so that your guests can see the glory of the sun setting over the water.

Enhance the atmosphere with music

Playing some good music is a guaranteed way to give your housewarming party a great atmosphere. Make a housewarming playlist on your streaming service for your party. For a more laid back affair, try some jazz or chillout music. If you are having a wild and lively party, hip hop, Motown, and chart hits will get everyone dancing. Try to include something on your playlist for each age group you have coming to your party. 

A housewarming party is a perfect way to celebrate your beautiful new waterfront house. You will enjoy a beautiful evening and possibly make new friends in your area.

The Bird-Friendly Waterfront Home

by Lucy Hudson

Designing a Bird-Friendly Waterfront Home

Waterfront homes are worth $134 billion nationally as of June 2018 with transactions for these types of properties ranging between 0.4-06% of all real estate dealings. Living close to a body of water such as a lake, ocean or river commands a premium price with great views, access to the water and even gorgeous wildlife such as birds. Unfortunately, bird deaths are also substantial due to collisions and crashes. Thus,

Discourage Birds from Flying into Windows

There are about 300 species of birds that live on or near the sea including puffers, albatrosses, tropic birds and pelicans. Alas, collision with glass is not uncommon and each year, bird mortality is estimated to be between 365 million to 988 million. The reflection of the water on the windows make birds believe that it is an extension of the waterway, sea or sky.

Although new glass technology is available such as UV, patterned, translucent or opaque glass, not everyone can afford expensive window renovations to their waterfront property. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize bird crashes and ensure that birds are safe. Putting decals on windows and applying window films warn birds not to fly into windows. Chimes around your glass windows also alert them of possible dangers. Drawing curtains partially during the day also helps, as well as installing internal shades and blinds. At night, avoiding lights near windows that attract birds reduces collisions and crashes. It also prevents dangerous conditions for night-migrating birds that may be drawn to the light and unable to break away.

Making Your Home Inviting and Safe

Keeping your waterfront home bird-friendly is an important consideration if there are substantial bird populations in your vicinity. At the same time, you’ll want to entice birds on your property and welcome them. Putting a birdbath in your garden, providing food and nesting shelter are great options to encourage them to stay for a while or make frequent visits. Flowers, shrubs and other plants that are endemic to the area are familiar to the local bird population. They will likely stop by for food and shelter when they see native landscapes.

In turn, birds control insect and rodent infestation and reduce the transmission of diseases, and regenerate habitats. For property owners, they get to bird-watch right in their own backyards.

Waterfront homes are simply divine. They allow access to the water, offer great views and other water-based recreational facilities. Wildlife is also fantastic with the presence of birds providing pleasure to humans. Keeping them safe by bird-proofing windows ensure that collisions and crashes are reduced.

Private Until Proven Public: New Law Restricts Public Access to Florida’s Beaches

Private Until Proven Public

 

For many Floridians, there’s only one way to spend the Fourth of July – at the beach. Each year, thousands commemorate our nation’s freedom by flocking to the roughly 600 beaches of coastal Florida.  As fireworks paint the sky shades of red, white, and blue, friends and strangers sit shoulder to shoulder on the shores below – a fitting celebration of the hard-earned rights, majestic natural lands, and solidarity shared by fellow Americans. And Floridians have long taken public beach access as a right.

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Cape Coral: the largest 4th of July fireworks display in Southern Florida.

On Independence Day this year, however, those in the Sunshine State will have a bit less liberty to celebrate – and a lot less beach on which to do so.  

A newly passed state law allows Florida’s waterfront property owners to restrict public access to the sandy shores that fall within their property lines.  Signed a few weeks ago by Governor Rick Scott – despite the impassioned opposition of thousands of activists and beachgoers from throughout the state – House Bill 631 effectively strips the people of Florida of their right, which has been protected since the state’s inception, to recreational access to the state’s coastal lands.  

Public Access to Florida Beaches: A Brief History

The relationship between public beach access and private property rights is a sticky, often complicated issue that has been the subject of countless legal disputes between private owners and municipal or state governments.

Public trust doctrine – the ancient legal principle that governments may protect certain natural resources for public use – has long maintained the common law right of state governments to hold in trust all beaches for public use. Today, each individual state is responsible for articulating, interpreting, and enforcing the particular guidelines that determine which beach land may be designated as public.

In Florida, coastal land below the “mean high water line” – all parts of the shore that become awash during high tide – have been arduously defended by municipal governments as open to the public, irrespective of private property lines.  Wet sand has always been treated as belonging to the public domain, and while many beachfront property owners have fought to restrict public encroachment on their land, public trust doctrine has routinely been used to maintain the right to public access.  

Local governments have often adopted “customary use ordinances” to preserve these rights, by identifying the state’s long and storied tradition of public use.  In a landmark ruling in 1974 – City of Daytona Beach v. Tona-Rama, Inc. – the court enforced the public’s right to access a privately owned stretch of Daytona Beach by citing the deep, long-established connection between Florida’s coastal lands and its inhabitants: “No part of Florida is more exclusively hers, nor more properly utilized by her people,” the ruling proclaimed, “than her beaches.  And the right of the public of access to, and enjoyment of, Florida’s oceans and beaches has long been recognized by this Court.”

The case also established a legal precedent that would yield enormous influence in similar disputes in the decades that followed.  “If the recreational use of the sandy area adjacent to mean high tide has been ancient, reasonable, without interruption and free from dispute,” the court reasoned, “such use, as a matter of custom, should not be interfered with by the owner.”  The case of Trepanier v. County of Volusia, in 2007, helped establish a means by which customary use could be systematically proven, through “eyewitness testimony, expert testimony, and aerial photographs of the general are of the beach.” Often, just a longtime local’s testimony, together with old family photographs of a trip to the shore, would be enough to establish customary use, and public beach access, within a contested beach region.  

But those days are over.  With the passage of HB 631, it is no longer in the hands of municipal governments to proclaim customary use; now, that capacity belongs solely to judges.  Under the new law, customary use can only be proven in court, on a case-by-case basis, using ample and convincing evidence. Local governments no longer have the legal right to enforce public beach access to private beaches by passing customary use ordinances; the process has been moved to the judicial realm.  

Public beach access

While private property owners previously had to build their case, the onus is now on members of the public to obtain judicial affirmation of customary use.  To put it another way: for years, Florida’s coast was regarded as public until proven private, but now, it is private until proven public. Beachfront owners are now legally allowed to prohibit the public from walking along the sands above the high-tide line, whether by roping off parts of their beach property, constructing fences, or putting up signs.  

Opponents of the new law assert that it benefits a few at the expense of many.  Public beaches, they argue, are the heart of Floridian culture, extending all the way back beyond the state’s beginnings.  Others warn that the ruling will cripple Florida’s tourism industry – the lifeblood of the state economy.

Private beach

Florida Beach Laws Change

It is no coincidence that we celebrate our nation’s freedom and solidarity all along our coastal lands.  In commemorating our nation’s independence, we celebrate the rights afforded to us as a result of our freedom – the hard-fought liberties it is our obligation to preserve.  Chief among them is our right to enjoy the beautiful shores of our nation’s coasts.

As thousands of Americans descend upon the shores of the Sunshine State this Fourth of July – just three days after HB 631 officially goes into effect – we may do well to remember what it is we are celebrating.  We may do well to remember the words to an old folk tune we know so well – a Woody Guthrie song that has been hailed, appropriately, as a national anthem in its own right – and which has become, to many Americans, synonymous with Independence Day celebrations:

“This land is your land, this land is my land

From California, to the New York island

From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters

This land was made for you and me

And we may do well to remember an earlier version of the song, with a lesser known but particularly timely verse:

“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.

The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’

But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.

This land was made for you and me.”

 

 

Florida’s Sinking Coast – Part 2

Mounting recognition of global warming and its likely effect on the Florida coast has mobilized many people in the state to take action. Though some continue to doubt the existence, much less the severity, of climate change, many Floridians are actively engaged in efforts to mitigate the damage that global warming is expected to inflict on their coast.

The election of Donald Trump as next President introduces a new set of variables, however – and a heightened level of risk – to the situation. Trump has long been a skeptic of human contributions to global warming, and his stance does not appear to have softened at all since being elected. To head his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump recently selected Myron Ebell – a prominent climate contrarian – who is expected to help Trump deliver on his campaign vow to repeal the Obama administration’s climate change policies. Climate scientists fear that the Trump administration’s cavalier attitude towards climate change – and of the causal role played by humans – will significantly hasten the consequences of global warming, including the flooding of United States coastal regions.

Ironically, real estate mogul and President-elect Trump owns a slew of South Florida properties, some situated in regions considered to be at risk of disappearing underwater by the end of this century. Whether or not Trump’s personal and business ties to coastal Florida will make him any more sympathetic to the pleas of climate scientists, we may soon find out.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of billionaire Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump and Slovenian model Melania Knauss will hold their reception at the mansion tonight after their nuptials at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. (Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

President-elect Trump’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago.

Regardless of what ends up happening to Florida’s coastal regions, many predict that the publicity surrounding sea-level rise may very well cause property values in those areas to take a plunge.

Even now, Florida’s housing market is already starting to feel the impact of sea-level rise. Compared with a 2.6 percent increase nationally, home sales in high-risk flood zones in Miami-Dade County dropped about 7.6 percent this past year. In the past few years, areas most prone to flooding have had significantly slower sales than other parts of the county. This correlation is in keeping with a nationwide trend: throughout the country, median home prices in areas at high risk of flooding are 4.4 percent below what they were 10 years ago. This is due, in large part, to the astronomical cost of flood insurance. As flood insurance premiums rise, property values fall.

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In addition to the increased publicity about the likely repercussions of sea-level rise in coastal Florida, people are also discouraged from purchasing homes in those regions due to the state’s lax disclosure laws. In some states, such as California, Pennsylvania, and Washington, state and local real estate agents are required by law to provide thorough and accurate disclosure of a property’s past history of flooding, as well as its risk for future flooding. In Florida, however, laws requiring real estate agents to notify purchasers about a property’s likelihood of experiencing natural hazards only apply to a limited stretch of the state’s coast. On top of that, there are no penalties for a real estate agent’s failure to comply. Potential buyers are given no guarantee, and no sense of assurance, that their new property won’t soon be underwater.

Localities across coastal Florida worry that if property values continue to fall, they won’t be able to fund the upgrades needed to protect their towns against rising sea-level. This is because much of their revenue is generated through property and sales taxes, and thus relies on having a large population of homeowners to tax. As concerns about coastal flooding continue to grow, and demand for coastal property continues to decline, these towns will fail to attract new homeowners and their current residents will relocate, causing their populations to shrink. Without sufficient tax revenue, they won’t be able to afford the projects necessary to combat the rising seas, and will thus be forced to flea to higher grounds.

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Some owners will decide to unload their coastal property before rising seas render it unlivable or unsellable, and while its value is still relatively high. Others will stay put, and continue to enjoy the wonders of coastal Florida living. Whether dubious of the precipitously rising sea and the dangers it portends, or simply willing to take the risk and live with the consequences, they will keep on living the Florida waterfront dream, one day at a time.

Florida’s Sinking Coast – Part 1

The earth’s ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, and sea levels are rising just as rapidly. According to a recent study, ice melt has caused sea water levels to rise nearly 7.8 inches in the last 150 years alone. With 2016 slated to become the hottest year on record, ice melt and sea level rise show no signs of slowing down.

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Many low-lying coastal areas throughout the world are routinely flooded, and many in the past century have become completely and irreversibly submerged. If global sea level continues to rise at this rate, coastal communities all across the globe may soon meet with a similar fate.

Coastal Florida is one such area. Parts of Miami, as well as other low-lying parts of the state, routinely experience flooding during high tides, and local governments throughout South Florida have already begun spending money on drainage improvements and pumping equipment. But how much will sea levels continue to rise? How quickly? How will this affect a Florida economy so dependent on coastal tourism? And what, if anything, can be done to prevent it?

Many scientists estimate that sea levels will rise somewhere between 3 and 6 feet by the end of the century. In certain low-lying parts of Florida, the shoreline is expected to move about 300 feet inland with each foot of sea level rise. Some worry that such low-elevation Florida cities as Sarasota, Venice, North Port, Bradenton, Punta Gorda, Naples, and Holmes Beach will either turn into islands or become completely submerged within the next 100 years. The following image is a projection, generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management, of how Miami-Dade County would likely be affected by a 3-foot rise in sea levels.

slr-seflorida1

In addition to permanently inundating low-lying coastal lands, rising sea levels are also expected to cause a huge increase in storm surge and tidal floods along Florida coastland. Of the 10 urban centers in the United States that are most vulnerable to storm surge – temporary rise in sea level that is caused by storms – Florida is home to over half. Tidal flooding resulting from storm surge typically drains from the land in a matter of days, but the damage it causes is often substantial. Southeast Florida currently experiences an average of 10 tidal floods annually, but within the next 30 years, scientists estimate that the region will be forced to endure a staggering 240 floods annually.

In Florida, sea-level rise is not merely a science issue, says Boca Raton-based oceanographer John Englander, but “a real estate, finance and built-environment issue” as well. Should sea levels rise significantly within the next century, measures currently being taken to prevent coastal flooding – such as elevating infrastructure and buildings, building detention ponds, installing pumps, digging runoff tunnels, and improving storm sewers – will not be enough to keep the coasts above water, and people will be forced to evacuate many South Florida areas. This would inevitably lead to a spike in property value in higher-elevation, inland regions just north of the southern coast, like Highlands, Polk, and Lake counties.

gw-impacts-graphic-coastal-states-at-risk-from-global-sea-level-risehttp://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/causes-of-sea-level-rise.html#.WD0gh6IrInU

So what does this mean for property owners along the Florida coast? Well, at this point much remains unclear. Those living in Florida – citizens and government officials alike – can’t seem to agree on the merits of the scientific evidence indicating that sea level rise is real, or if the threat it poses to their coasts is legitimate. As a result, little has been done to prepare the state’s coastal communities for what potentially lies ahead.

Some folks – including builders, architects, realtors, and developers – are skeptical of the supposed dangers posed by rising sea levels, and view the whole thing as overblown. They point out that sea levels naturally fluctuate over time, and view the recent increase as just the current swing of a pendulum that will inevitably head back in the opposite direction.

Others very much believe the warning calls from scientists, and insist that we take heed. They worry that unless action is taken now, taxpayers will end up having to spend a fortune trying to reverse the problem later on down the road. But by then, some fear, it will be too late; much of low-lying Florida will have drowned, tourism revenue will have plummeted, and the state economy will have taken a nosedive.

So who’s right? And what does all of this speculation mean for Florida’s coastal real estate market? Stay tuned for Part 2, as we discuss how sea-level rise is already beginning to affect Florida’s coastal homeowners.

The Restorative Power of Water: Part One

You don’t have to buy a waterfront home to achieve serenity…you can just take a walk, a deep breath, and observe the natural surroundings. But recent research has shown that having a view from your home, particularly of water, can make a difference in your physical and mental condition and your abilities.

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People have long been aware of the calming, rejuvenating effects of nature. Indeed, many of us would agree that we are more relaxed, clear-headed, and cheerful upon returning from a stroll through the woods, the park, or along the shore.

Science has long validated this phenomenon, with study after study demonstrating the power of nature to reduce stress and improve our general wellness.

But despite the breadth of scientific literature alluding to the curative effects of nature, there has been little consensus among scientists regarding the specific mental health benefits it provides, let alone how it provides them. The influence exerted by natural environments upon the human mind has continued to elude our understanding.

A number of recent studies, however, have begun to shine light on the particularities of this influence.

Environmental psychologists exploring how humans experience nature have turned their attention to attention; specifically, to how we direct our attention while amidst nature, and how immersing ourselves in nature influences how we pay attention to things once back in the built environment.

Attention Restoration Theory – a formulation of how the human mind functions within natural, as opposed to manmade, environments – is gaining significant traction within the scientific community.

According to the theory, humans are limited in the amount of attention they are able to pay to objects in their surroundings. Concentrating on the tasks of day-to-day life is a psychologically taxing endeavor, and our finite attentional resources are continually being drained over the course of the day.

In addition to these daily demands, the built environment in which we spend the vast majority of our lives places a tremendous amount of strain on our attentional reserves as well. Artificial environments, so the theory goes, overload our perception with a barrage of stimuli that command and hold our attention.

Consider the example of walking down a busy city street: the roaring engines and frantic honking of cars, crosswalk signals counting down or flashing at us to stop or go, sidewalks cramped with pedestrians hurriedly shouldering past, billboards instructing you what movie to go see or which toothpaste to buy. Even when we arrive home, flipping through the television channels or opening our laptops, we are scarcely able to escape the hyper-stimulation of the modern, interconnected world.

So what happens when our environments bombard us with sensory input that seizes our attention and refuses to let go?

According to Attention Restoration Theory, we eventually begin to experience what is referred to as directed attention fatigue (DAF).

DAF – which occurs when our attentional resources have been depleted – makes it exceedingly difficult for us to focus our attention on any one task for any prolonged amount of time, increases the amount of cognitive mistakes we make in our daily functioning, and can increase our stress levels.

But are all natural environments equally beneficial? Stay tuned for Part Two…the answer may surprise you.