Item Coversheet

New Business and Commission Requests - R9  AE


TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Alina T. Hudak, City Manager 
DATE:April  3, 2024



At the December 13, 2023 City Commission meeting, item R9 D (Attachment 1), sponsored by Mayor Steven Meiner and Commissioner Alex Fernandez, was discussed. The City Commission referred the item to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee (PSNQLC). The PSNQLC heard the item on February 14, 2023 and moved the item with a favorable recommendation to the Commission to pursue creating a compacted sand path east of the dunes for pedestrians (as opposed to bicyclists) which would include permitting and approvals through the State Coastal Construction Line Program (Florida Statute 62B-33 Ch. 161 Beach and Shore Preservation). 


The Beachwalk projects are part of the larger Atlantic Greenway Network (AGN), which is a system of bikeways designed to promote alternative transportation. They extend in a north/south direction and run between the Erosion Control Line (ECL) and the dune system. The Beachwalk provides a direct connection to ten City parks including Altos del Mar, Lummus, and South Pointe, among others. The construction for this project began in 2003 and was completed in 2022. The estimated cost of the entire Beachwalk is $44.9 Million with a total estimated value of approximately $60 Million; it connects area business districts, cultural and tourism centers, residential neighborhoods, parking facilities, parks, schools, and the beaches.  The majority of the Beachwalk projects were carefully designed and permitted.


From 1975 to 1980, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, in coordination with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, built a non-vegetated levee of storm protection as part of the first beach restoration effort targeting the Miami Beach Coast. Due to high pedestrian and vehicular traffic, the levee wore down quickly and was deemed ineffective.  In the mid-1980s, the FDEP rebuilt and fortified the dune with vegetation and they have grown in height and stability over time.  The dunes protect coastal infrastructure and upland properties from storm damage by blocking storm surge and absorbing wave energy. A healthy dune system is an invaluable asset to coastal communities like Miami Beach. They also keep beaches healthy by accreting sand and minimizing beach erosion rates.  Coastal dunes are also habitat for wildlife and support a high biodiversity of flora and fauna. The USACE estimates the average annual benefits of the beach and dune system to be $20.8 million.  


There are considerable concerns with heavy pedestrian and bicycle activity on the Beachwalk, and the Administration has made many attempts to reduce conflicts.  This item specifically explores the possibility of a compacted sand path east of the dunes per Committee direction. The Administration conducted research to understand the feasibility and cost of developing a ten-foot wide compacted sand path along the seaward edge of the dune system. Florida Statute 62B-33.005 General Criteria for Areawide and Individual Permits provide a regulatory framework to protect the beach and dune system (Attachment 2).  In addition, the Administration contacted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for regulatory guidance related this specific activity east of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL). FDEP advised the City would need to meet the requirement of the State Statute and obtain approval from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).  Staff also developed a rough cost estimate for the project based on roadway compaction projects, however, this does not include the types of sand specified by Statute or potential mitigation requirements.


Regulatory Feedback

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) advised of the requirements and the difficulties of obtaining approvals to create a compacted path east of the dune system. There are regulatory limitations on what can be permitted east of the CCCL, or Collins Avenue; as such, allowable activities within the dunes and on the beach are limited, particularly once habitat has been established. The area east of the dunes must follow the CCCL Program which regulates structures and activities that can cause beach erosion, destabilize dunes, damage uplands, and interfere with public access; it aims to protect sea turtles and the overall health of the dunes.


If the City were to proceed with creating a new parallel compacted sand path east of the dunes, approvals through the CCCL program as a “new activity” would need to be obtained. A designated path for which the sand is artificially compacted would change the current nature of the existing sand. The Statute also regulates that “beach compatible fill is material that maintains the general character and functionality of the material occurring on the beach and in the adjacent dune and coastal system” and includes the coloration, grain size, and composition. The City would also need to prove that there would be no impact to sea turtles; because species such as Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback sea turtles nest in soft sand, proof would be required that compacted sand path activity would not impact the sand characteristics per the Endangered Species Act of 1973. FDEP § 62B-33.005 – General Criteria for Areawide and Individual Permits is included as Attachment 2.




The Office of Capital Improvement Projects developed a rough order of magnitude estimate for the compacted sand path; the total project estimate is estimated at $3,677,634; but does not include any required mitigation or regulatory considerations by the State. This estimate is based on preparing a compacted sand pathway with the addition of aggregates to create stability and durability. Any activity that would impact the existing dune system would require the cost of environmental mitigation and must meet the minimum requirements set forth in § 62B-33.005. The Commission may be interested in conducting a feasibility analysis to best understand the ability to obtain regulatory approvals at a cost of approximately $100,000 prior to funding design and permitting.


The Administration recommends discussion by the City Commission considering the regulatory environment of creating a parallel compacted sand path due to the State Statute and Coastal Construction Control Line requirements designed to regulate potential adverse impacts to sea turtles, the dune system, and the overall coastal environment.  A referral to the Finance and Economic Resilience Committee may be needed due to the estimated costs of a feasibility analysis and/or design, permitting, and construction.

Applicable Area

Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
Yes No 

Strategic Connection

Environment & Infrastructure - Work regionally and nationally to protect Biscayne Bay water quality and to maintain a healthy dune and beach system.
Legislative Tracking
Environment and Sustainability
Sponsored by Mayor Meiner and Co-sponsored by Commissioners Fernandez, Bhatt, and Suarez

Attachment 1
Attachment 2