South Florida Beaches Expected to Dodge BP Oil Spill

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | August 9, 2010 12:31 PM ET

Following an Executive Order by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist authorizing reappraisals for property owners affected by the BP oil disaster, the U.S. government's top cleanup official is now predicting the Gulf of Mexico spill should miss South Florida altogether and probably not even reach the Florida Keys, according to the latest news reports.

The Fort Lauderdale-based South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on July 29 that it is now highly unlikely that the tricounty South Florida region of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties will experience any material effects of the oil spill.

The Miami Herald followed with a July 31 story reporting that the oil spill will probably not even reach the Florida Keys at the southern tip of the state.

"The latest reports are great news for South Florida, which just dodged a potential environmental disaster," said John Fakler, executive editor of "For the longest time, the U.S. government in unison with BP predicted that the oil well would probably continue gushing until mid-August, increasing the chances of tar balls washing up on the South Florida coast.

A number of factors have contributed the halt of the expanding oil slick besides the capping of the well. Retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the top expert in charge of the cleanup, credits Tropical Storm Bonnie's arrival in the Gulf of Mexico in helping to dissipate the crude. Tropical Storm Bonnie also steered the crude away from the loop current, which could have sent oil into the Gulfstream east around the tip of Florida and north into the Atlantic Ocean.

Developments of the BP oil spill have been fluid, with a number of government and media outlets reporting that the crude could reach regions of Florida beyond the Panhandle and negatively impact property values statewide.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in June that there was up to an 80 percent chance the spill would hit South Florida shorelines. A newer analysis released by NOAA last week indicates the oil should miss beaches in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties if the well remains caped.

Timothy Becker, director of University of Florida's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies, concludes in his quarterly survey released July 28 that the spill is affecting all markets across Florida, not just the economy in the state's Panhandle region.

Poor job growth and oil disaster affects are the two major fears about the Florida real estate market, according to Becker's report.

One week earlier on July 21, Florida's Crist in his strongest appeal yet for property owners issued a directive authorizing property appraisers to assess lost real estate values resulting from the BP oil spill. The governor's order should make it easier for homeowners and businesses to send their claims for damages directly to BP.

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