My colleague Ryan Mills asks Albritton, beach appropriations subcommittee chairman, what he's shooting for when it comes to money for beaches in the 2017 session: "As much as we can get," Albritton responds. "I don't know what that looks like."
"We're probably looking at playing some offense this time, we're probably looking at playing some defense two years from now," Albritton said, citing predictions of budget shortfall in 2018.
Albritton calls Hurricane Matthew damage "pretty bad" but says he's uncertain how Legislature will handle repair money given that local requests for beach help were submitted prior to the storm.
Next question: Do we need more money to be dedicated specifically to beaches?
Penniman makes pitch for prioritizing spending Collier tourist tax revenues on beach renourishment instead of prioritizing tourism promotion.
McAlpin calls Albritton "right on" for looking at spending money on beach projects because of the revenue they generate for Florida budget.
McAlpin calls it a "local responsibility first" to take care of beaches with cost sharing from Florida.
"It's a partnership program, it's not an outright funding program," Albritton said.
First audience question: Why don't we raise the state sales tax by one percent and spend money on bridges and beaches?
First audience question: From the shores of Cape Canaveral we put a man on the moon and we're about to have the POTUS living on a Florida beach. We have a 6 percent sales tax, why can't we make it 7 percent and that penny would go to beaches and bridges.
Albritton: Can't support raising taxes but supports innovation to find cheaper sand.
FIU student asks whether Florida is open to working with state's universities to find new ways to maintain healthy beaches.
McAlpin says he's not optimistic about any innovative technologies he has seen "at this time."
Third audience speaker wants to call attention to our photo of A1A in Flagler Beach and says she worked on a task force in the 80s and 90s to protect that shoreline. She says they did attenuation, renourishment, replaced road, discussed buying those houses, etc. She wants to know if a futurist is talking about planning about or thinking about a beach without humans on it.
Third speaker: We don't want to be the Venice of the South rowing around in Collier County.
Woman from audience draws applause calling for planning for sea level rise: "I don't want to be known as the Venice of the South where we row around in boats in Collier County."
Penniman calls it a "tough sell" to get elected officials to act on sea level rise without citizens pushing for it.
Fourth speaker: I don't believe Tallahassee is gonna help us a lot on environmental. Nothing has come up (locally) in the last few years. I can't accept that.
Naples High School student: Shouldn't we let Mother Nature take her course rather than trying to fight sea level rise with beach renourishment?
McAlpin says Collier County has mandate to protect health, safety and welfare of coasts with beach renourishment, however it is done.
Naples resident Judy Hushon says county should be setting aside money for long-term planning not just short-term beach renourishments.
Next speaker: How many times will we have to renourish this beach in the next five years? Should we be setting aside some funding for long-term planning for 2025 and 2050?
Albritton says he doesn't know how Florida can plan for sea level rise decades ahead of time given uncertainty of future that far out.
Next audience question brings up Gordon Pass. McAlpin says it's a federal project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and by statute that sand has to be placed on the down drift beaches.
McAlpin: Typically we don't renourish private beaches with public funds.
Next audience question compares Naples to Annapolis, Maryland, or Norfolk, Virginia, and what they're doing to prepare for sea level rise. What are we doing about rising sea level at all three levels of government?
In response to question about what Florida leaders are doing to plan for sea level rise, Albritton: "I'm not going to sit here and blow smoke, I have no idea. I'll tell you this: I'll find out."
Next speaker is a Pelican Bay resident: Where are our representatives at this forum? We had an election recently and they should be representing us at Tallahassee. We have a dog in this fight.
Commitment from Albritton, who is up for reappointment as appropriations subcommittee chairman: "I will work closely with your (Southwest Florida) delegation. I will reach out to them. I'll make sure that happens."
Final question from reporter Ryan Mills on truck hauls. Are we satisfied with truck hauls or are we looking to alternatives?
McAlpin says Collier County truck haul putting sand on beaches will wrap up in two weeks.
We are wrapping up our "Shrinking Shores" community forum. Thanks for your interest.