New St. Augustine Committee Tasked With Amending Building Code To Reduce Flooding

Oct 13, 2020

The St. Augustine City Commission is moving forward with plans to form a new advisory committee tasked with amending the city’s land development code to reduce flooding.

Commissioner John Valdes brought up the idea in the Sept. 28 meeting, formally sponsored the effort, and in Monday night’s City Commission meeting he volunteered to lead the committee.

“That’s how much I want to be part of moving this thing along. This is important. We have an opportunity to fix something here that’s relatively simple,” he said.

During the last City Commission meeting, Commissioner Valdes, who has worked in the construction industry for decades, explained to his colleagues that St. Augustine is filled with old structures built on top of suspended wood floor systems, which allow water to filter into the soil when it rains.

Over time, those buildings have been torn down and replaced with buildings constructed over concrete slabs - effectively removing thousands of square feet of soil that can absorb stormwater.

This, Valdes said, is one of the root causes of the flooding St. Augustine experiences during heavy rain events.

The City Commission is expected to formalize the goals of this new committee at their next meeting on Oct. 26.

Commissioner Valdes said this is an issue the city should have addressed years ago, so he intends to do what he can to fasttrack the committee process.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.