Commissioner Dean addresses beach renourishment, tourism at Chamber luncheon


District 5 County Commissioner and Commission Chair Henry Dean discussed the importance of beach renourishment and its potential impact on tourism at a recent St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Ponte Vedra Beach Division luncheon.

"In this town, we have a lot of good industries, but tourism is our No. 1 industry," said Dean at the March 14 event held at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Ponte Vedra Beach. "What drives tourism and what's the lifeblood of tourism? Our beaches. If we don't have healthy, sustainable beaches in our county - and I live in south St. Augustine - if we didn't have the beach renourishment program we have, and we didn't have healthy beaches, we would be just a shadow of what we are today down there as far as economic activity and tourism business."

Dean suggested that the county should increase its tourist development tax (also known as the bed tax) by a penny to help fund a renourishment project. According to Dean, the county’s TDC tax is currently at 4 percent, while the Flagler County rate is 5 percent and Volusia is at 6 percent.

"In order to come up with a way to restore and sustain our beaches in the north part of the county," he said, "it makes good sense to take a portion of the TDC tax one cent and augment the funds that would be coming from the local community." (The Board of County Commissioners will vote on the bed tax increase in the coming months.)

Dean noted that Irma impacted 47 of Florida's 67 counties, and the aftermath of both Irma and Matthew created a “real significant problem" in the area from Vilano Beach to South Ponte Vedra Beach. The commissioner asserted that one-time sand placement could mitigate the problem for a stretch of about nine miles – approximately 30 cubic yards of sand per linear foot – and help renourish the beach significantly.

According to Dean, the county is looking for an offshore sand source to get the project going.

"A year ago, we were looking at trucking it in by truck transport, but Irma damaged the beach and eroded the beach so that's not really an option now," he said. "The only reasonable way to do the project is with an offshore sand source, which requires some core permitting that we'll be involved with.”

Dean's address also included discussion on smart growth and proposed impact fees for business/residential areas. The event was sponsored by Fields Auto Group. For more information on Dean, visit