... [Willo] Kelly [a lobbyist for Realtors and home builders on the Outer Banks] worries that codifying the 39-inch forecast would crush the local economy, which relies entirely on tourism and the construction, sale and rental of family beach houses. In Dare County alone, the islands’ largest jurisdiction, the state has identified more than 8,500 structures, with an assessed value of nearly $1.4 billion, that would be inundated if the tides were 39 inches higher.Even with an eight-inch forecast, 414 Dare County properties worth $70 million would be marked for inundation. If the state ever activates the Web site that lets potential investors search by address, Kelly said, “all of a sudden, those properties would be worthless.”
Nationwide, $700 billion of coastal property could be below mean sea level by the end of the century — and an additional $730 billion could be at risk at high tide — without new policies to forestall climate change, according to a new report by the Risky Business Project, a high-powered group of financial and political figures who are set to meet Wednesday with senior Obama administration officials. So far, locals say there is no sign that the housing market on the Outer Banks is suffering. Nags Head’s town manager, Cliff Ogburn, said that the town is doing a booming business in building permits and that “occupancy is as high as it’s ever been,” having rebounded from the dark days before 2011. That is when Nags Head and Dare County spent $36 million to repair severe erosion on 10 miles of beachfront, where encroaching waves had claimed nearly a dozen houses and the seaside swimming pool at the Nags Head Comfort Inn.
Now the beach looks great, the tourists are back and Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills are talking to the county about beach nourishment projects of their own.
I don't necessarily agree that "codifying the 39-inch forecast would crush the local economy." The wealth of property owners would fall as real estate prices fall and the construction industry would take a significant hit (and one might argue that the coastal construction industry should pay attention to long term sea level rise forecasts). But, the rental market should manage to stay active. Sea level rise doesn't much affect the demand to go to the beach. Whatever the effect on the local economy, avoiding inconvenient science is not the answer.
*I explained that removing a oceanfront row of houses would transfer oceanfront value to the next row of houses. This makes the $70 million cost likely too high for loss of those 414 properties. Here is what we found in Bin et al. (2010):
For Dare County, a total of 25,232 residential properties are used in the analysis with the total assessed value of $11 billion. Depending on the sea-level rise scenarios, the number of residential properties at the risk of inundation ranges between 487 (2030-Low) and 3737 (2080-High). Without discounting, the residential property value loss in Dare County ranges from $136 million (1.24 percent of the total assessed value) to $1040 million (9.45 percent of the total assessed value). Based on the 2 percent discount rate, the estimated loss ranges from $81 million (0.74 percent) to $231 million (2.10 percent).
The "2030-Low" sea level rise scenario is a little more than 4 inches (0.11m) and the "2080-High" scenario is almost 32 inches (0.81m).