March 29, 2019
The city is working to correct misleading information from a nonprofit group studying the risks of sea level rise.
The group twice sent out press releases saying that coastal towns have “LOST” billions of dollars in home value due to flooding. Many newspapers did not bother to actually read the study before writing stories about how much property has been “wiped out.” The group sent out the release in August and because it got some traction, they sent out the same thing again in February.
The study in fact acknowledges that property values continue to increase steadily in coastal towns. But it suggests that the increases could be even greater without flooding. And it further suggests it has a formula that can isolate and quantify — to the dollar — the effect of one factor on this theoretical loss in real estate values. That, of course, is implausible.
Ocean City rose to the top of the list, not because flooding is any worse than anywhere else, but because it has so much real estate value.
The reality is that Ocean City’s combined real estate value climbed from $7 billion to almost $12 billion during the period of the study. Investing in Ocean City real estate is about as safe a bet as you can make. One local paper – which twice ran the exact same story on the theoretical costs of flooding — last week reported that Ocean City is “the hottest secondary home market in the U.S.”
People’s appetite for living at the shore is not at all diminished, and that’s an important factor to consider as we plan for the future. But Ocean City will continue to take a leading role in investing in solutions. The elevation of homes and infrastructure, installation of pumping stations, replacement of bulkheads and barriers, creation of living shorelines, purchase of open space and various other ideas are all important in our ongoing efforts.
We had a suggestion at last evening’s City Council meeting to experiment with the Bayside Center as a site for chemical-free landscaping. The area is under construction as part of the north end neighborhood drainage project and the restoration of the grounds would serve as an appropriate test area. I have instructed the city team to come up with a plan and proposal to make this happen.
I hope you all have a great weekend. Remember that Philadelphia Eagles star Darren Sproles and former Phillies slugger Matt Stairs will be in town tomorrow for our Sports Memorabilia Show. Free tree seedlings will be available to Ocean City residents on Monday (see more info).
Jay A. Gillian