Why are Taxpayers Subsidizing Coastal Landowners?

Saturday, June 06, 2015
(photo: Mike Groll, AP)

American taxpayers have for years footed a big bill to prop up the values of coastal properties.


From federal flood insurance to sand replenishment, the government has poured (or promised to pour) hundreds of billions of tax dollars into helping home and business owners enjoy beachfront property.


In Florida alone, the National Flood Insurance Program has guaranteed to cover $484 billion in property.


Taxpayers also subsidize beach nourishment, or the placement of new sand on eroded beaches. The federal government spent $787 million from 1995 to 2002 on beach replenishment, according to a recent study, “Climate Adaptation and Policy-Induced Inflation of Coastal Property Value.”


The study says without the taxpayer-backed subsidies, coastal properties could endure a “dramatic downward adjustment” in values. “If the federal government were to remove subsidies for beach nourishment causing local municipalities to pay the entire cost, the intrinsic value of coastal property would instantly decline, by as much as 34% in some locations,” according to the study published by PLoS One.


“Our results suggest that if nourishment isn’t a long-term strategy the federal government wants to use to manage eroding coastlines, a gradual removal is more likely to smooth the transition to more climate-resilient coastal communities,” according to lead researcher Dylan McNamara.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

How Your Taxes Help Inflate The Value Of Coastal Properties Threatened By Climate Change (by Joe Romm, ThinkProgress)

Coastal Values Could Plummet If Beach Nourishment Subsidies End (Duke University)

Climate Adaptation and Policy-Induced Inflation of Coastal Property Value (by Dylan E. McNamara, Sathya Gopalakrishnan, Martin D. Smith, A. Brad Murray, PLoS One)

Why do U.S. Taxpayers Have to Repeatedly Pay to Rebuild Storm-Damaged Island in Alabama? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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