Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Commissioners in Miami-Dade County have proposed a new climate change levy on property developers who want to create new housing in “environmentally sensitive” areas.
Miami-Dade Could Ask Developers to Pay for Climate Change Costs
If you live in South Florida, you’ve probably come around to the idea of climate change and realized that, like it or not, sea levels are rising. But solutions to the problem are pricey, and there’s no clear consensus on how we’ll pay for the changes we need to continue living here.
Four Miami-Dade commissioners have suggested an idea so new it doesn’t appear any other city has implemented it: Create new “impact fees” that would require developers to basically pay for their portion of the burden of sea-level-rise-related costs.
“We have to be forward-thinking and open-minded about how we’re going to share responsibility for solving the challenge,” says Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who along with Commissioners Juan C. Zapata, Rebeca Sosa, and Sally A. Heyman sponsored the item.
The proposal, which is on today’s agenda, asks the mayor to prepare a report on whether such fees would be appropriate. (It’s worth noting that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has said much of the discussion about climate change involves “doomsday scenarios which, frankly, I do not believe.”)
Credit to Mayor Carlos Giménez for resisting this nonsense.
If this proposal is adopted, developers wouldn’t pay – they would simply pass costs on to home buyers.
I have no problem with property developers being required to make the land they develop habitable. But in my opinion this proposal goes well beyond normal oversight – it requires developers to pay costs for events which haven’t happened yet, to cover a climate scenario which shows no signs of happening in the foreseeable future.
What would the impact of these additional costs be? It seems likely that extra costs would hurt poor people struggling to get on the housing ladder. But avoiding unnecessary burdens on poor people has never been a climate priority, as President Obama demonstrated when he promised to “make electricity rates skyrocket”.