September 18, 2020 9:00am

Move Forward With Downtown Development

Fort Lauderdale Voters Undeterred by Sewer Breaks, Support Building Boom

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By Sallie James
Fort Lauderdale, FL Correspondent
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Our first Fort Lauderdale Power Poll focused on construction-related issues in a city that’s been plagued with so many sewer pipe breaks that the descriptors “slime” and “sludge” are sometimes more accurate than “sun” and “sand.” 

This beachside city is experiencing a downtown building boom, with high rises in various states of construction all over the city. We asked our members if Fort Lauderdale’s already stressed and crumbling sewer system can handle the construction of thousands of more units. We also wanted to know if members thought the city should institute a building moratorium in light of the slew of smelly and troublesome sewer pipe breaks. Lastly, we wanted to know if members supported a city plan to base a property owner’s stormwater fee on property trips, a change that would likely up a property owner’s tax bill. Answers were lukewarm on all three questions.

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Here are the Power Poll results: 

Our first question focused on the downtown building boom in Fort Lauderdale and its effect on the city’s aging and poorly-maintained sewer pipe system: Can Fort Lauderdale’s never-ending series of sewer pipe breaks handle more development? Since 2012, 1361 residential and hotel units have been approved for downtown with another 3619 under review.

Seventy five percent of the respondents agreed or were neutral, with answers evenly distributed at 37.5 percent in each category. No one chose “strongly disagree” but 12.5 percent of the respondents picked “strongly agree” and 12.5 percent chose “disagree.”



The City of Fort Lauderdale in January 2020 approved a $65 million construction project to replace a crumbling 54-inch sewer line that runs 7.5 miles across the city. The project may take up to 18 months.

Our second question focused on construction in Fort Lauderdale in general. We wanted to know if members thought that downtown development was on track, in light of the sewer pipe problems, or if it needed to be slowed: Do you support a building moratorium in Fort Lauderdale?

Fifty percent of our voters “strongly disagreed” and 25 percent were “neutral.” The rest were evenly divided at 12.5 percent each in the categories of “strongly agree” and “disagree.”



Our third and fourth questions focused on Fort Lauderdale’s stormwater fee and its manner of payment. Here’s question No. 3: Do you agree with a proposal to base a property owner’s stormwater fee on the property’s square footage and the number of trips generated by the parcel?

Seventy-five percent of the voters either disagreed, or were neutral, with 37 percent responding in each category. Twenty-five percent of the voters agreed with the proposal.



Here’s question No. 4: Is it a good idea for Fort Lauderdale property owners to have to pay their stormwater fees through their annual property taxes instead of each month?

Half of the voters were neutral on this issue, with another 25 percent agreeing, and 12.5 percent disagreeing and strongly disagreeing respectively.



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