RMA Rises to the Challenge of Sea Level Change

Redevelopment Management Associates Prepares Proactive Plans for City Clients

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Photo: Urban Design and Planning

MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Feb. 10, 2016 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- One of the most urgent issues South Florida's municipal leaders must tackle is sea level rise. Faced with inevitable flooding problems, leaders from around the state recently converged in Key West to discuss the coastal crisis. RMA (, which is currently planning and redeveloping several cities along the coast, sent their Director of Urban Design & Planning, Natasha Alfonso, to the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit to help their clients stay ahead of the challenge.

"We are charting a new course," said Alfonso. "Many of our clients are located in some of the most vulnerable areas and some have invested heavily on beach re-nourishment projects as well as building dunes along their beaches to protect them from the strong tidal waves," she stated. "However, after the recent devastating storms, many cities realized that beach dunes are merely the first line of defense."

The next form of defense, in some cases, is to raise roads and build higher infrastructure. Some cities like Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach have already identified in their respective Stormwater Management Plans the need for higher road elevations. Following that will be to raise buildings.

"Miami Beach will definitely be a model for what works and what doesn't work," explained Alfonso. "In the meantime, if cities do not take the lead and invest in their infrastructure now, they will not be doing the best job of providing public safety, enhancing quality of life; and decreasing property damage and land erosion which can result from poor and insufficient drainage capacities."

RMA's urban design and planning division coordinates with the city's public works, engineering and utility departments to ensure that the team understands the impact of the underground infrastructure improvements to the above ground streetscape improvements and the overall effect on the public realm.

This information is crucial in the early stages of a project's development, beginning with the visioning and master planning phase, and all the way through to implementation. RMA investigates the existing conditions and constraints thoroughly and is effective at communicating the issues and solutions during the public input process.

"RMA has also crafted some of the most innovative codes that provide incentives for green buildings," continued Alfonso. "The goal is to reduce the carbon footprint one project at a time. Our development standards are written for specific conditions that are unique to an area. The team evaluates the current minimum base flood elevations and the required new higher finished floor elevations due to sea level rise. Then, we determine the impact to the public realm resulting from the higher finished floor elevations or the inhabitable spaces that begin to populate the street level. Our codes provide design standards for the treatments of those spaces through architectural and landscape features."

"Navigating the sea change scenarios will not be easy," said Alfonso. "However, RMA is already rising to the challenge with the steps we are taking in our client communities."

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* Photo Caption: RMA's Urban Design and Planning Team.

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REFERENCES: Urban Design and Planning, climate change, Natasha Alfonso, Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit, news, press release from Redevelopment Management Associates, Feb 10, 2016, Environment and Ecology, Government, Business, MIAMI BEACH, Florida, RMA Rises to the Challenge of Sea Level Change