Mayor Jack Seiler Responds to Sea Turtle Activists Clamoring for His Attention
Stefan:Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts about sea turtles on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The City of Fort Lauderdale cares deeply about the survival of the endangered sea turtles, and we are -- and have been -- working with local and state officials to ensure the safety and protection of sea turtles nesting on our beaches.For example, following the recent inclement weather caused by Hurricane Irene, the City suspended beach cleaning operations on two separate days to allow our staff to examine, monitor, and repair damaged turtle nests. Approximately 70 nests were successfully re-established and/or repaired along the stretch of public beach from Fort Lauderdale Beach Park north to Oakland Park Boulevard.Also, by working in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the City of Fort Lauderdale has made significant progress toward decreasing the amount of light on the beach to protect the sea turtles and minimize disorientations.Currently, more than 100 city-owned, turtle-compliant light poles located along the east side of A1A are retrofitted with specially designed covers that have been approved by the FWC to block light from shining directly on the beach.The City is also making a $2 million investment in the beach to enhance the safety and protection of sea turtles by further limiting the amount of artificial light. Our engineers have designed a prototype turtle-compliant light fixture that will be used to replace all acorn-style lights along the east and west sides of A1A. These FWC approved, turtle compliant light fixtures will illuminate the sidewalk and roadway without shining any light on the sand. The project is being funded through a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and we expect all the new lights to be installed within the next six months. You may be interested to know that these turtle compliant light fixtures, which we designed, have also been approved by the FWC for use in the cities of Riviera Beach and Delray Beach.In addition to limiting lighting, the City assigns Code officers to the beach to specifically monitor light emanating from properties and ensure businesses are complying with lighting regulations. Our proactive code enforcement efforts have resulted in opening 172 cases on beach lighting violations. Of these, 49 properties have already complied; 76 are actively working with staff to reduce lighting; and, 47 have received a Notice of Violation.Properties continue to work with the City to reduce lighting visible from the beach by turning off lights completely, shielding bulbs, discontinuing the use of wall mounted light fixtures, deactivating security lights, retrofitting fixtures with turtle compliant bulbs, discontinuing the use of decorative lighting, and limiting outdoor lighting.Part of our success in this effort depends on the public. If someone sees any beach lighting violations, we encourage them to report the violation by contacting our Code Enforcement Office at 954-828-4989.The City of Fort Lauderdale recognizes and appreciates that this is both a serious and complicated issue. We are working diligently to achieve a balance between the safety and protection of the sea turtles and the safety and protection of our pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, motorists, residents, visitors and businesses, all of whom need to coexist cooperatively on the beach each and every day of the year.By working together, we are confident that we can effectively address the concerns that have been raised and formulate a solution that is acceptable to the diverse stakeholders involved in this issue.Again, thank you for giving me this opportunity to respond, and I hope this clarifies the City's position on this important issue.John P. "Jack" SeilerMayor
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