Rising Sea Levels Threaten Tampa Bay Property Values

WASHINGTON (970 WFLA) -- A new report says rising sea levels could take a big bite out of property values and the tax base, along Tampa Bay's coastline. 

The Union of Concerned Scientists says as much as 40 percent of our area's property tax base could be eroded by the end of the century, as waters rise and homes and businesses suffer chronic flooding. 

Their economist, Dr. Rachel Cleetus, says rising beachfront property values are being propped up by misguided subsidies (such as federal flood insurance) and a short term mentality. 

The Union's report says the value of affected properties in Florida alone could run into the hundreds of billions, based on data from Zillow. Property tax losses for local and state governments could run into the billions.

Cleetus favors mitigation measures short-term, while working on long-term issues involving carbon emissions.

Based on a worst case scenario in the year 2100, for the city of St. Petersburg, UCS estimates $11.4 billion in property values and $173 million in property taxes are at risk. For Tampa, $7.4 billion and $110 million. For Clearwater, $6.9 billion and $108 million. Those numbers don't include nearby smaller communities. For the entire state, UCS estimates more than $350 billion in values and almost $5 billion in property tax revenues are at risk. 

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