Dear Neighbor,

Miami Beach has begun investing in the resilience of our residential neighborhoods. This newsletter will provide some helpful information so you can gain a better understanding of how you, your home and your family will be impacted.  

The City is expanding the stormwater system and elevating roads with targeted completion expected in 2021-2022.  City-wide, Miami Beach is spending approx. $500M on these Neighborhood Improvement Projects to keep us dry in the face of sea level rise.  The bigger pipes, mechanical pumps and higher streets help protect our homes and our nest eggs.  

Miami Beach cannot elevate all of our roads at once.  We have to take our medicine a little bit at a time to avoid crippling the City from the traffic and congestion associated with road construction.  

The construction projects are going to annoy us when they impact our own neighborhoods.  No one likes torn up roads and dirt everywhere. Traffic is already a pain.  But in the end, our patience will pay off as these improvements will keep our City and our homes dry in the face of future storms and high tides.  Remember, this is something the City is doing FOR us, not TO us.

As always, my door is open for your questions and comments.


Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán
What is the Scope of Work?

Neighborhood Improvement Projects include: water mains, stormwater pipes and pump installation, road elevation, and sometimes sanitary sewer replacement and utility under-grounding. Road finishing, lighting, and landscaping remediation complete the work.
When Is the City Coming to My Neighborhood?
  • In Progress: Palm Island, Hibiscus Island, Sunset Islands III & IV, Sunset Harbor, Venetian Islands, West Avenue Phase 1, Central Bayshore, Indian Creek, City Center/Convention Center
  • 2017 Start: Central Bayshore South, West Avenue Phase 2, Lakeview, Upper & Middle North Bay Road
  • 2018 Start: North Shore, First Street, City Center drainage collection system
  • 2019 Start: Normandy Isle, Orchard Park/Nautilus, Flamingo, La Gorce/Allison Islands
  • 2020 Start: Alton Road from Michigan to 63rd, Normandy Shores, Biscayne Point, Belle Isle, Sunset Islands I & II, and Star Island

These schedules are subject to change, but this is the best information available today.

An important question for you to ask is whether your sanitary sewer or water main connections are being moved, which varies by street.
How High Will the Roads Be?

The City of Miami Beach policy direction is to raise all roads to 3.7' NAVD88.   This standard looks forward to around the year 2055.  It is not necessary to understand the NAVD terminology. Identifying the current elevation of your home relative to the future elevation of the road in front of it is adequate for you to make your own plans and decisions.  

To help you understand this relative elevation, t he City is creating an “Adaptation Calculator.”    Armed with your home elevation certificate, you will be able to determine the actual elevation (in inches) of the public right-of-way adjacent to your property.  You can then take a yard stick and easily see the actual future road elevation in comparison to your driveway and your home’s finished floor elevation. 

The City of Miami Beach Adaptation Calculator will be available on the City website by April 2017.  In the meantime the City has maps showing the current elevation of all streets that can give you a very good idea.  These maps will be online by April, and can be viewed now with a trip to City Hall.
Will Higher Roads Flood My Property?
The good news is that the new roads are designed not to shed water onto private properties.   The bad news is that most of us have been relying on gravity to shed our private stormwater into the  public right-of-way, not even realizing that doing so is contrary to Miami-Dade County code.

Because of this, t he City has tasked its engineering partner, AECOM, to create an approach to allow private properties to optionally tie into the City’s stormwater system.   Miami Beach’s stormwater system is being built with enough capacity to carry stormwater from all properties.  Subject to Commission Approval, a framework is expected to be presented to the Commission in April/May 2017 which will allow homeowners to tie in to the public stormwater system should they so choose.  Doing so will reduce their risk of flood from rainfall and tidal events.  This solution should relieve some of the urgency to elevate low-lying homes.

Who Pays for What?

If your sanitary sewer or water main connections have to be relocated, the City will pay for trenching, re-plumbing, and filling, as well as sod replacement.

The City will pay for the section of driveways and walkways on private property that will be harmonized in either asphalt or concrete. If an existing driveway/walkway has a decorative feature such as pavers the resident would like to reinstall, then the contractor will rebuild the harmonized area and leave a prepared base for the property owner to have their own contractor finish with that decorative feature.  Any impact to hardscape such as walls is paid for by the homeowner.  The City will restore swales.

In some neighborhoods homeowners have placed encroachments on public property.  Generally, these have to be removed although exceptions are made in certain circumstances.  You will have a chance to discuss your unique situation with the City prior to construction.

What You Can Do Now to Plan
Miami Beach is working on several tools to help educate homeowners, and will hold numerous public meetings to help everyone understand what is planned so that you can make informed decisions for your own properties.  For now, there are a few things you can do: 
To get an idea of what a neighborhood looks like after stormwater improvements and road elevation, you can visit:
  1. West Avenue at 14th Street, which was elevated approx. 2 feet 
  2. The Northwest side of Palm Avenue on Palm Island, where the road was raised approx. 1.5 feet.   
bedrock SLR
As these bedrock samples illustrate, the City of Miami Beach has a porous foundation.

What About Seawalls?
Unlike other parts of the world, we cannot protect our homes with only levees or seawalls: ground water levels are rising and coming up from underneath us through the small holes and cracks in the bedrock.

Of the 63 miles of seawalls in Miami Beach, only 3 miles are publicly owned. A private seawall owner can expect to spend $1000-$1500 per linear foot to bring an old seawall up to code (this is a general rule of thumb of course).

While homeowners are not being required by the City to replace seawalls now, all new seawalls are being required to be more resilient.

New seawall construction guidelines have been changed to ensure that all new seawalls can be elevated to a height of 5.7' NAVD.  

To see what the new regulations for seawall construction are like, you can visit the City's new seawall at 23rd and North Bay Road (completely finished), or the Cherokee Avenue street end (seawall is constructed but harmonization has not yet been completed).
The new Palm Island home on the left was built at about BFE +2' 
What About New Home Construction?
Miami Beach has changed its building code requiring not only seawalls, but also homes, to be built at a higher elevation to last for the next 50-100 years.

Homeowners can choose to build their new finished floors at an elevation between  Base Flood Elevation  (BFE) plus one foot up to BFE plus five feet.

I hope that this newsletter has given you a solid foundational understanding of how and when you and your home will be impacted.  I'm certain you will still have questions after reading this, particularly as your neighborhood project comes closer.

These enhancements are necessary so that we can continue to get flood insurance for our homes, maintain our property values, and maintain the safety and security of our community during extreme tidal and storm events.

Feel free to email me with your additional questions, concerns and comments at:

Moving Miami Beach Forward Together!

Whether you are a Miami Beach resident or a business owner in our community, my office is here to help!  My door is always open, so feel free to stop by or e-mail me at 

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John E. Alemán | City of Miami Beach Commissioner | 786-459-7111 |