Monday, January 09, 2006

Monmouth Beach’s Disappearing Beach

On Sunday morning, starting at the north end of Sea Bright, I took a ride down Ocean Avenue and drove all the way to Belmar. Although I didn’t make many direct housing related observations on my ride, I did notice that the beach in Monmouth Beach is smaller now than it was this past summer. The jetty at “Little Monmouth” beach club is no longer surrounded by dry sand but now sticks out into the Atlantic, just like in the ‘80s and before. (If you look at this satellite photo from google that was taken a few years ago, you can barely see the tip of the jetty. Now when you go down there, you can see that the jetty is only half-way covered with sand and the rest is surrounded by sea.)

As is typical this time of year, winter storms have washed away a lot of sand and as a result the ocean has gotten considerably closer to the sea wall. Ideally, for beach front (or near beach front) home owners, the sand will wash back in the spring and summer and the buffer between the ocean and the houses will increase. More likely though, only some of the sand will wash back and while the size of the beach will be bigger in the summer compared to right now, it will still be comparatively smaller than it was last summer, and the summer before that.

If you have only had experience with north Monmouth County beaches over the past 5 to 10 years, you might think that the current size of the beaches is the norm, or even smaller than norm and that the beaches will eventually get bigger. This is not the case though, as the beaches are actually considerably larger than normal due to beach replenishment projects in the 90s. Assuming no more beach replenishment projects in the future, the size of the beaches will eventually shrink to the point where the ocean is right up against the sea wall along many stretches of Ocean Avenue causing parts of the road to flood even during relatively small storms or when ocean swells are running high.

Given the history of flooding and Atlantic Ocean encroachment in Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright in the relatively recent past, I think there could be real estate repercussions in the future. Anyone who bought in Sea Bright or Monmouth Beach in the past 10 years, without any awareness of what the Atlantic has done to those towns in the past, when the beach buffer was much smaller than it is now, might be in for an eventual rude awakening. At the very least, even if there is no actual property damage from storms, house values could be impacted negatively by the disappearance of a key amenity of the area, specifically the actual sand on the beach.

The new houses on the Tradewinds’ property are a good example of what could happen in 5 to 15 years in the absence of additional sand replenishment projects. Although these new luxury mansions look solidly built and are probably high enough to keep from getting flooded, one of the main selling points is the 30 second walk to the beach. Whether the owners of those houses know it or not, that beach is only temporary and it might be hard to justify today’s prices for those houses 5 years from now when the beach is non-existent.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting subject - and one that isn't covered much when talking about declining real estate values.

Maybe it's seasonal, but rising ocean levels in the coming years is probably going to get a lot more press as people lose thier homes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 4:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can remember being a kid in the late 70s/early 80s and having the ocean regularly crash over the sea wall during storms. Driving down Ocean Ave in Monmouth Beach you'd get splashed w/ waves.

Often wondered it the new residents had any clue...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 5:16:00 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

Any idea when the sea wall was built? My in-laws live in a little coastal massachusetts town (Scituate). The sea wall that was built earlier in the century has caused the entire beach to erode away, leaving only rocks where there was once sand. Build walls to protect your homes and lose the sand. My husband remembers sandy beaches only a couple decades ago.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 5:20:00 PM  
Blogger Little Silvered said...

The sea wall has been there ever since I can remember (the 70s). I'm guessing it was put in when the train line ran through Sea Bright, which I think would have been in the 00s, but I'm not sure.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 8:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As soon as the beaches start eroding enough to be a problem you'll see a few articles in the local papers and the Army Corps of Engineers will be back filling in the sand again. There's too much money invested in the shore economy (ie, tourism) for the state to ignore it.

As a surfer I know all about NJ beaches and beach replishment. North NJ beach replenishment projects have ruined a lot of good surf breaks. What a waste of money. Isn't it great that the gov't subsidizes rich waterfront homeowners?


Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Leeve said...

You mentioned the Princeton study back in a brief November post. It's going to take alot of sand to make-up the 3% of the total land mass of New Jersey that will probably disappear by 2100. The study is must reading for any homeowner on the shore I would think. Yes, it will get "grim," when that so-called hundred year storm hits and takes out Sea Bright and half of Monmouth Beach. Forget beach replenishment or sea walls if I were a "long-term" home owner I'd be lobbying for leeve planning - bring in those Dutch engineers after they finish working in New Orleans. But, it won't happen - everyone thinks they'll be able to sell before this is a problem.

Sea level rise will threaten New Jersey Coast

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 9:46:00 AM  
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Monday, February 20, 2006 8:06:00 AM  
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:32:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Charls said...

There was a time when the beach was about to get disappeared but this couldn't be possible due to such big efforts which made it and cabana club near the beach all alive and worth visiting for visitors and native people.

Monday, September 17, 2012 5:22:00 AM  

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