|By Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
In rejecting a report commissioned by the
The report contains recommendations that would increase construction and maintenance costs of buildings as well as roads and other infrastructure.
Under the proposal, sponsored by Rep.
The coastal panel's report was based on scientific projections and should be taken seriously. That's not to say we must call for an immediate retreat or implement rules that will lead to what an economic development group's director predicts will be "economic catastrophe." We have to be practical. But it is irresponsible public policy to bury our heads in the sands and ignore science-based warnings.
The real folly was a development-driven coastal policy that positioned billions of dollars of real estate in harm's way on the shifting sandbars we call barrier islands. Even without concerns about sea-level rise, the policy needs shoring up.
One reason cited for double-digit increases in homeowners insurance rates in coastal counties was to fatten the Beach Plan, which was severely underfunded. State officials and insurance industry actuaries projected that a catastrophic hurricane could cause
The construction boom that built out once sparsely developed islands raised the stakes. Many of the houses and other structures were built where erosion eats away sand and threatens to topple them. Sandbags that sit in front of property years longer than the law allows are one example of deference to development over good coastal policy.
Which is what prompted the
Will the sea level rise more than three feet in the next 88 years? The scientists say we should be ready for that. Lobbyists representing coastal communities and development interests say, "Whoa, let's just wait and see."
In the case of our changing coastline, gradual retreat or relocation should be an option should we begin to see signs of a rapidly encroaching
What's already built along the coastline represents a substantial investment for the owners and a source of revenue for coastal towns, which depend on that real estate and the residents or visitors it attracts. But we can mitigate the future impact by putting in place some reasonable restrictions on new construction.