The Islamorada Matters project created a survey asking 138 residents and business owners to prioritize and rank several of the Plan recommendations, as well as provide their thoughts and feedback on Islamorada’s sustainability, climate change, and sea level rise planning efforts to date. The survey was opened on April 9, 2015, and left open until June 1, 2015 (approximately 53 days), during which time 121 responses were received.
Key findings from the survey showed that residents and business owners in Islamorada are most concerned with the Habitat, Infrastructure Built Environment, and Sustainability Focus Areas, in order of importance. Survey respondents prioritized the following actions as extremely important for the Village moving forward:
- A complete streets policy to address all users and design for the safety, comfort, and convenience of pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and public transit users is most important for Islamorada;
- Increasing the mileage of sidewalks connecting people with destinations;
- A requirement that internal decisions by local government departments use the most current climate science and staff monitor climate change impacts;
- Adopt energy efficiency regulations for buildings within the Village;
- Reduce or eliminate toxic pesticides in locally-owned or managed buildings through the use of pest management techniques;
- Become actively recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community or Walk Friendly Community;
- Enforce regulations to control the use or sale of invasive species; and
- Provide incentives to residents and developers to protect critical watershed protection areas.
To prepare for sea level rise, respondents prioritized working to address flooding on roads and in neighborhoods and ensuring that new development incentives address climate preparedness as the two most important things the Village can do. To better prepare for disasters and extreme weather events, respondents want to see the implementation of the highest priority improvements listed in the local mitigation strategy or other similar plans. Regarding healthcare and health impacts and climate change, there is the greatest concern among residents and business owners about waterborne diseases attributable to changing precipitation patterns, stronger storm events, and rising waters.
Biggest Perceived Threats
Responses varied widely on what residents and business owners perceive are the biggest threats to the Village of Islamorada from sea level rise. Flooding was most prevalently identified as the biggest threat, with over one-third of the survey responses identifying it as the largest threat. Other threats repeatedly identified by respondents included property loss and devaluation, more extreme and frequent storms, saltwater intrusion, overpopulation, and increased flood insurance premiums.