New Seawall Height Requirements Approved in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale has joined other cities in Broward County in adopting new seawall standards to address sea level rise and tidal flooding. The city has approved new seawall height requirements, increasing the minimum top elevation from 3.9 feet to 5 feet. Homeowners with new seawalls or those with significant damage to their seawalls or whose seawalls are too low to prevent tidal flooding will be required to comply with the new rule.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Property owners who fail to comply with the new rule will be fined $100 per day after the one-year deadline for building or replacing their seawalls has passed. The city will use code officers on a newly purchased $58,300 boat to patrol waterways and cite homeowners whose seawalls don’t meet the new standards. Fort Lauderdale officials are also encouraging residents to report failing seawalls to the city’s 24-hour hotline.

Implementation and Impact on Homeowners

Fort Lauderdale officials have not determined how many homeowners will be affected by the new rule, and they estimate that replacing a seawall can cost between $1,200 to $2,000 per linear foot. This means that a homeowner with a 100-foot-long seawall might end up paying anywhere from $125,000 to $200,000. Critics predict that some residents might end up putting their homes up for sale as a result of the high cost of compliance.

Expert Opinion

Fort Lauderdale’s assistant director of Public Works, Dr. Nancy Gassman, stated that homeowners will only need to raise their seawalls if they are building a brand-new seawall or if their seawall is in disrepair and experiencing regular tidal flow breaches. Gassman also noted that seawalls generally last around 50 years and that turnover in the housing market has already triggered new seawall construction.


Fort Lauderdale’s new seawall height requirements will apply to homeowners with new seawalls, seawalls in significant disrepair, or seawalls that allow tidal flooding. Property owners will have one year to build or replace their seawalls or risk being fined $100 per day. While it remains unclear how many homeowners will be affected by the new rule, critics predict that some residents may end up putting their homes up for sale due to the high cost of compliance.