COASTAL MANAGEMENT [CM]

As a peninsula, Pinellas County has unique advantages and challenges. The County’s shoreline offers beautiful views and recreational opportunities, and significantly contributes to the area’s economy. Coastal planning, sea level rise, and natural disasters are inherent concerns for Pinellas County. The Coastal Management chapter is established to help protect life, property and infrastructure investments, and support the County’s economic vitality.

Everyday Actions

  • Do your part to save our dunes! Always stay on designated paths and dune walkovers.
  • Don’t disturb seagrass beds and other sensitive habitats.
  • Always follow boating regulations and restrictions.
  • Know your zone! If you are in an evacuation zone, pay close attention when storms are nearby and have a plan.
  • If you need to evacuate, consider sheltering in a non-evacuation zone within the County with family or friends to reduce shelter space needs, traffic on the road and travel time back home when the order is lifted.

Goals, Objectives, Policies & Strategies 

CM GOAL 1 (Integrity/Quality):  

MAINTAIN, RESTORE AND ENHANCE THE INTEGRITY AND QUALITY OF COASTAL RESOURCES.

CM OBJECTIVE 1.1:  

Maintain beaches and dune systems to balance the benefits of storm risk reduction, recreation and the economy with their function as a natural resource.

CM POLICY 1.1.1:  

Preserve, restore, maintain and enhance living and non-living coastal natural resources.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.1.1:  

Monitor erosion of beaches to identify enhancement needs.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.1.2:  

Implement a beach nourishment program to restore sandy beaches and dunes.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.1.3:  

Partner with state and federal agencies on beach restoration and inlet management projects. Seek funding through the Florida Beaches Funding program.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.1.4:  

Serve as a lead agency for coordinating and managing federal beach nourishment projects.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.1.5:  

Use hard engineering structures only if beach nourishment or other soft engineering measures are insufficient to maintain the beach and dune system.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.1.6:  

Beach restoration projects will be designed and constructed to avoid adverse impacts to seagrasses, nearshore hardbottom, and species of concern to the extent practicable. Unavoidable adverse impacts must be minimized and mitigated, and a restoration plan will be enacted if unavoidable storm damage occurs.

CM POLICY 1.1.2:  

Avoid adverse human impacts to the stability of beach and dune systems.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.2.1:  

Implement Land Development Code regulations that:

  • Limit (re)development to minor and non-habitable structures seaward of the state coastal construction control line as defined by and consistent with applicable state statutes;
  • All construction activities seaward of the coastal construction control lines shall be established pursuant to s. 161.053 and shall be consistent with Chapter 161 of Florida Statutes; and
  • Permit shoreline hardening only if other measures are insufficient and hardening is the only means of protecting upland properties.
CM STRATEGY 1.1.2.2:  

Prohibit private vehicular traffic on beaches. Provide marked driveways through the dunes for emergency and maintenance vehicles.

CM STRATEGY 1.1.2.3:  

Marked path and dune walkover construction is permitted to protect the dune system where:

  • A dune exists;
    Access to a public beach is clearly marked;
  • Evidence of disturbance by pedestrian traffic exists; and
  • Construction of a dune walkover will not eliminate all existing vehicle access.
CM OBJECTIVE 1.2:  

Protect and preserve all native coastal wildlife and marine species and their essential habitat.

CM POLICY 1.2.1:  

Develop and implement management and protection plans for coastal natural resources and species of concern.

CM STRATEGY 1.2.1.1:  

Identify and protect important seagrass and nearshore hardbottom areas.

CM STRATEGY 1.2.1.2:  

Utilize County ordinances, the Land Development Code and other regulations to achieve species protection goals and strategies.

CM STRATEGY 1.2.1.3:  

Fund implementation of management and protection plans to preserve coastal natural resources.

CM GOAL 2 (Reduce Risk):  

REDUCE RISK TO HUMAN LIFE, PROPERTY AND PUBLIC INVESTMENT FROM THE EFFECTS OF HURRICANES, STORM SURGE, HIGH-TIDE EVENTS, FLASH FLOODS, STORMWATER RUNOFF, SEA LEVEL RISE AND OTHER CLIMATE RELATED IMPACTS AND NATURAL DISASTERS.

CM OBJECTIVE 2.1:  

Restrict (re)development within and direct population concentrations out of the Coastal Storm Area.

CM POLICY 2.1.1:  

Identify areas that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise.

CM STRATEGY 2.1.1.1:  

Coordinate with municipal partners to identify and designate Adaptation Action Areas for the purpose of developing strategies for adaptation and for enhancing the prioritization and funding of infrastructure adaptation projects.

CM STRATEGY 2.1.1.2:  

Utilize the vulnerability assessment, tidal flood and storm surge inundation information, and other related studies to help identify:

  • Adaptation Action Areas (which may include areas that extend beyond the CSA);
  • Public facilities and infrastructure at-risk from sea level rise and related impacts; and
  • Areas where increased building standards and setbacks should be implemented to protect structures for the duration of their expected life.
CM POLICY 2.1.2:  

Establish the “Coastal Storm Area” (CSA) to include the Coastal High Hazard Area (CHHA) defined as areas projected to be inundated from category one hurricane storm surge in the most recent “Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH)” model or most recent storm surge model compliant with applicable state statutes.

  • All land connected to the mainland of Pinellas County by bridges or causeways;
  • Isolated areas projected to be inundated by storm surge from a category two hurricane or above by the slosh or most recent surge model that are surrounded by the CHHA or by CHHA and a body of water; and
  • All land located in Coastal “A” zones, “V” “VE” or “V1-30” velocity zones designated by the federal emergency management agency (FEMA) flood insurance rate maps.
CM POLICY 2.1.3:  

Pinellas County shall not approve any request to amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) to designate parcels of land within the CSA with a FLUM category that permits more than 5.0 dwelling units per gross acre.

CM POLICY 2.1.4:  

Restrict public infrastructure expenditures that subsidize (re)development in the CSA.

CM STRATEGY 2.1.4.1:  

Prohibit County-funded infrastructure within the CSA except for the following:

  • Infrastructure that supports the safety of life and property, such as traffic and pedestrian signals and signage, street lights, fire hydrants, etc.;
  • Underground utilities infrastructure;
  • Maintenance, repair or replacement of existing facilities;
  • Hardening existing infrastructure to avoid, mitigate, or reduce the potential for future damages from hazards, such as storm surge and sea level rise;
  • Restoration or enhancement of natural resources or public access;
  • To address an existing deficiency identified in this plan;
  • New or retrofitting of existing stormwater management facilities for water quality enhancement of stormwater runoff;
  • Management of sewer system inflow and infiltration (I&I); or
  • The expenditure for a public facility of overriding public interest to ensure public health, safety, and welfare.
CM STRATEGY 2.1.4.2:  

The County shall not construct bridges or causeways to barrier islands not previously serviced by such infrastructure.

CM POLICY 2.1.5:  

Restrict the placement of facilities within the CSA that present health, safety or environmental risks from natural hazards.

CM STRATEGY 2.1.5.1:  

Prohibit the location of new or expanded hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities within the CSA.

CM STRATEGY 2.1.5.2:  

Prohibit site improvements that would increase bed capacity in existing hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities within located in the CSA.

CM OBJECTIVE 2.2:  

Establish a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) outlining underlying emergency management policies and tools to address preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

CM POLICY 2.2.1:  

Develop and implement the Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) to reduce risk to life, property, infrastructure, and institutions through systematic risk assessment and hazard mitigation.

CM STRATEGY 2.2.2.1:  

Implement existing hazard mitigation programs consistent with federal and state regulations.

CM STRATEGY 2.2.2.2:  

Utilize the Land Development Code to reduce the vulnerability of existing and future (re)development to natural hazards, including, but not limited to: the effects of hurricanes, flooding, prolonged periods of rainfall, and sea level rise.

CM STRATEGY 2.2.2.3:  

Coordinate and leverage projects identified in the LMS and the County’s Capital Improvements Program (CIP).

CM STRATEGY 2.2.2.4:  

Develop and implement a plan to acquire property to prevent incompatible (re)development in areas of repeated damage resulting from flooding, storm surge or wind velocity.

CM STRATEGY 2.2.2.5:  

Implement Land Development Code regulations restricting (re)development in floodways.

CM OBJECTIVE 2.3:  

Maintain adequate evacuation clearance times and shelter space for a Category 5 storm event.

CM POLICY 2.3.1:  

The level of service for Regional Clearance Time for hurricane evacuation (intra-state movements) for a Category 5 storm event (Saffir-Simpson scale) is 50 hours.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.1.1:  

Coordinate with the Florida Department of Transportation to consider regional hurricane evacuation in the development of a transportation improvement plan for District 7.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.1.2:  

Consider hurricane evacuation in the annual development of the Capital Improvement Program.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.1.3:  

The Comprehensive Plan must not be amended to adversely affect the level of service for full hurricane evacuation to outside the County (intra-state movements) for a Category 5 storm event (Saffir-Simpson scale).

CM POLICY 2.3.2:  

Plan and conduct hurricane evacuation as prescribed by the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.2.1:  

Use the Countywide Intelligent Transportation System/ Advanced Traffic Management System to expedite hurricane evacuation.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.2.2:  

Ensure that evacuation routes are clearly posted.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.2.3:  

Cooperate with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council to increase public awareness of hurricane evacuation procedures.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.2.4:  

Cooperate with the State Division of Emergency Management to coordinate evacuations.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.2.5:  

Pinellas County Department of Emergency Management shall coordinate with the Florida Department of Health – Pinellas to maintain a special needs / evacuation registration program to address the evacuation needs of at-risk populations.

CM POLICY 2.3.3:  

Meet the shelter space needs of the public based on a pre-determined standard of square feet per person.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.3.1:  

Coordinate with local jurisdictions and agencies to address needs for increasing the number of public shelter spaces.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.3.2:  

The design and construction of new or expanded County buildings will consider adaptable use for sheltering, emergency management staging or supply storage.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.3.3:  

Coordinate with the Pinellas County School Board to design and construct new, renovated or expanded school facilities to function as public emergency shelters.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.3.4:  

Inform the public of safe alternatives to traditional public sheltering, such as sheltering in place by hardening their non-surge vulnerable homes, to reduce demand for limited public shelter space.

CM STRATEGY 2.3.3.5:  

Develop criteria, standards, methodologies and procedures to mitigate the impacts of (re)development on shelter space availability.

CM OBJECTIVE 2.4:  

Facilitate rapid and efficient recovery in the event of a disaster and implement hazard mitigation measures to reduce the exposure of human life and public and private property to natural hazards.

CM POLICY 2.4.1:  

Post-disaster activities shall be guided by a Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan (PDRP) as a component of the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

CM STRATEGY 2.4.1.1:  

The PDRP shall address land (re)development in unincorporated Pinellas County; the redevelopment and recovery of County facilities, properties, and functions; provides county-wide guidance for recovery and redevelopment from natural and manmade events; and describes operational strategies, roles and responsibilities in cooperation with federal, state and municipal partners.

CM STRATEGY 2.4.1.2:  

The PDRP provides guidelines, criteria, procedures and actions to address emergency and disaster recovery, including:

  • Repair, reconstruction, relocation, modification and hazard mitigation;
  • The restoration of essential public services and facilities;
  • The management of debris and its impacts on short- and long-term recovery;
  • Provisions for the expedited issuance of building and other permits required for emergency and short-term disaster recovery;
  • Housing emergency declarations, where temporary housing may be allowed, and plans to transition from temporary to permanent housing;
  • Recovery assistance and funding to promote flood-resistant, energy efficient redevelopment;
  • Consider potential impacts of flooding, storm surge and sea level rise, and incorporate appropriate adaptation techniques to reduce future flood losses and increase long-term resiliency; and
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of recovery and hazard mitigation programs.
CM STRATEGY 2.4.1.3:  

The PDRP shall address:

  • Standards for rebuilding nonconforming and substantially damaged structures;
  • Blight and abandonment prevention;
  • Voluntary risk reduction and hazard mitigation programs;
  • Focused redevelopment strategies to reduce disaster vulnerability;
  • Workforce retention and recovery;
  • Affordable and workforce housing needs;
  • Transportation infrastructure and public transit restoration and enhancement;
  • Business resumption and small business assistance;
  • Sustainable restoration of tourism industry;
  • Enhanced infrastructure and public facilities capacity for redevelopment focus areas;
  • Strategies to address socio-economic barriers to recovery;
  • Environmental contamination; and
  • Natural land, habitat, and urban tree canopy restoration.
CM POLICY 2.4.2:  

Implement Land Development Code regulations consistent with the flood-resistant construction requirements of the Florida Building Code and applicable federal flood plain management regulations that:

  • Reduce flood risk;
  • Consider future conditions; and
  • Encourage the use of green infrastructure, best management practices and engineering solutions for site development as defined by the County’s Stormwater Manual that will reduce runoff, enable on-site absorption, and reduce pollution and losses due to flooding.
CM POLICY 2.4.3:  

Participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and continue to consider strategies to improve NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) rating in order to ensure availability of flood insurance and higher flood insurance premium discounts for its residents.

CM STRATEGY 2.4.3.1:  

Maintain an inventory of repetitive loss areas and utilize the Land Development Code and Stormwater Manual to address mitigation strategies.

CM STRATEGY 2.4.3.2:  

Educate and increase awareness about all types of flood risks and mitigation strategies through CRS efforts in coordination with the Flood Risk and Mitigation Public Information Working Group and the Local Mitigation Working Group.

CM STRATEGY 2.4.3.3:  

Maintain and acquire additional open space in the floodplain.

CM STRATEGY 2.4.3.4:  

Implement building standards that address future conditions.

CM STRATEGY 2.4.3.5:  

Maintain and update Watershed Management Plans and the Capital Improvement Program.

CM GOAL 3 (Coastal Land Use):  

COASTAL LAND USE WILL BE SUSTAINABLE OVER THE LONG TERM, COMPATIBLE WITH NATURAL AND HISTORIC RESOURCES, SUPPORTIVE OF THE COUNTY’S ECONOMIC VITALITY AND RESISTANT TO THE VULNERABILITY OF THE COASTAL LOCATION.

CM OBJECTIVE 3.1:  

Coastal land uses will be (re)developed to meet the standards and criteria for location, intensity, compatibility and adequate infrastructure established for all (re)development within Pinellas County except where the unique attributes and vulnerabilities of the coastal location require additions or modifications.

CM POLICY 3.1.1:  

Coastal land uses will be consistent with the Future Land Use and Coastal Management Chapters.

CM STRATEGY 3.1.1.1:  

Restrict facilities that present health, safety or environmental risks from natural disasters within the CSA.

CM STRATEGY 3.1.1.2:  

Restrict public infrastructure expenditures within the CSA, except as described in CM Strategy 2.1.4.1.

CM STRATEGY 3.1.1.3:  

The County shall collect a tourist tax and use a portion to implement needed improvements identified in this chapter in compliance with the defined capital improvement goals, objectives, policies, and strategies.

CM OBJECTIVE 3.2:  

Ensure the long-term sustainability of coastal resources and land uses by planning for rising sea levels.

CM POLICY 3.2.1:  

Responsibly plan to avoid, mitigate, and adapt to the impacts of sea level rise.

CM STRATEGY 3.2.1.1:  

Acquire advanced data and analysis through studies and modeling to help evaluate and refine the adaptation area boundary and strategies.

CM STRATEGY 3.2.1.2:  

Evaluate the data and findings regarding sea level rise and update planning, evaluation tools and guidelines in cooperation with local municipalities, state and federal agencies, and other experts in the field.

CM STRATEGY 3.2.1.3:  

Develop and implement strategies and actions to avoid, mitigate and adapt to the effect of sea level rise.

CM STRATEGY 3.2.1.4:  

Utilize Pinellas County Guidance for Incorporating Sea Level Rise into Capital Planning to evaluate and inform the capital improvement and maintenance projects about sea level rise vulnerability, risks and adaptation strategies.

CM STRATEGY 3.2.1.5:  

Coordinate with municipal and other partners to ensure that sea level rise planning and adaptation is considered in the planning, siting, maintenance and retrofitting of public infrastructure and facilities.

CM STRATEGY 3.2.1.6:  

Encourage the use of adaptation strategies for planning and design of parks and open spaces in areas vulnerable to sea level rise and high tides in a manner that can help serve multiple functions, such as: recreational; enhanced water quality; natural ecosystem restoration; and coastal flooding accommodation.

CM OBJECTIVE 3.3:  

Prioritize sustainable and economically viable water-dependent and water-related land uses.

CM POLICY 3.3.1:  

Ensure that the location, intensity and design of (re)development does not conflict with the protection of marine and coastal species and habitats.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.1.1:  

Maintain a comprehensive program of data collection, monitoring, interagency coordination, regulation and education pertaining to the location and impact of water dependent and water-related land uses.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.1.2:  

Utilize the County Code to ensure that water dependent and water-related land uses do not diminish or adversely impact marine and coastal resources.

CM POLICY 3.3.2:  

Promote the location and (re)development of marinas and boating access facilities in environmentally appropriate coastal locations.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.2.1:  

Utilize the Pinellas County Code for siting and developing marinas and boat access facilities, in accordance with the following criteria:

  • Water depth is adequate to accommodate proposed boat use. Dredging or filling is strongly discouraged;
  • Preference is given to expansion of suitable existing facilities;
  • Flushing of the basin is adequate to maintain water quality;
  • No adverse impact on archaeological or historic sites;
  • No adverse impacts on the West Indian Manatee Habitat;
  • Prohibit the expansion or construction of marinas or boat ramps in areas designated as
  • Critical Habitat of the West Indian Manatee;
  • Reasonable access to a large navigable water body and /or prime destination points;
  • Minimal impact on environmentally sensitive resources including upland areas;
  • Sufficient upland area to accommodate needed utilities and support facilities;
  • Sufficient roadway capacity to handle traffic demand;
  • Compatibility with surrounding and adjacent land uses;
  • Adequate wastewater treatment capacity for upland and marine pump-out facilities;
  • Preference is given to facilities where new public use slips are provided;
  • Public safety and welfare are considered;
  • Marina and boat ramp (re)development is subject to special regulations for developing in (a) aquatic preserves, (b) outstanding Florida waters, and (c) class ii waters;
  • Marina and boat ramp (re)development is subject to the special regulations for developing in areas approved for shellfish harvesting; and
  • Marina and boat ramp (re)development is subject to the special regulations for developing in other highly productive or unique habitats.
CM STRATEGY 3.3.2.2:  

No marina will be approved until a hurricane plan for the project has been received and approved.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.2.3:  

On a case by case basis, consider the feasibility of mooring fields.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.2.4:  

Promote and enhance the “clean marina program” by:

  • Promoting the benefits of “clean marina” certification through outreach and education efforts; and
  • Requiring all county-owned marinas to obtain “clean marina” certification within one year of purchase.
CM STRATEGY 3.3.2.5:  

Determine the best financial strategy(ies) to support and protect public access to water-dependent land uses.

CM POLICY 3.3.3:  

Promote the preservation and enhancement of recreational and commercial working waterfronts.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.3.1:  

Partner with municipalities and the private sector to develop and implement strategies for preserving and enhancing working waterfronts.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.3.2:  

Amendments to the Future Land Use Map and Land Development Code shall protect recreational and commercial working waterfronts.

CM STRATEGY 3.3.3.3:  

Cooperate with unincorporated waterfront communities to determine the need for additional regulatory criteria or incentives to support or enhance viable recreational and commercial working waterfronts.