The Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit
University of Florida Levin College of Law
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The maritime industry in the United States, which plays a significant role in the economies of coastal states and the nation as a whole, involves a diverse variety of working waterfronts, ranging from large commercial ports that facilitate heavy industry to small-scale, traditional working waterfronts. Moreover, in many areas of the country, the economic and cultural identities of local communities depend almost exclusively on traditional working waterfronts. Unfortunately, land use and economic policy shocks, such as escalating coastal property values and taxes, increasing demands for non-water-dependent land uses, and complex and time-consuming permitting processes, currently threaten many working waterfronts. Since waterfront land is essentially a non-renewable resource, these pressures are likely to intensify, with more than half the U.S. population (153 million people) living in coastal zones. Additionally, the number of people 65 years and older living in coastal zones is expected to increase by 147% over the next 50 years (these people come to the coast for reasons other than economic reasons).
Further compounding this pressure, waterfront infrastructure almost always amounts to a long-term capital investment, which demands stable planning and funding mechanisms. Thus, where state policies fail to make the appropriate financial resources available to waterfront communities, these communities face an uphill battle to remain viable – essentially playing third-fiddle to other ports in the state, ports in other states, and non-water-dependent land uses, such as luxury residential projects.
Boswell-Ebersole, Alexander and Ankersen, Thomas T., "State Funding for Ports: Selected State Summaries and Links to Resources" (2013). Maine Sea Grant Publications. 62.
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