Vilano Beach homeowners dealing with erosion, dredging project

Porpoise Point residents say sand from dredging not being used to protect homes

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

VILANO BEACH, Fla. - Vilano Beach homeowners living in the Porpoise Point subdivision are dealing with erosion and a dredging operation. 

Jeff Schubart and his wife have a home right on the Atlantic Ocean, but said erosion has wiped the beach away.

A dredging operation to replenish sand is currently underway. But according to the Schubarts and their neighbors, the sand is not not being used to protect their homes during high surf.

Schubart told News4Jax on Tuesday that because the beach has been eroded away, water during high tide seeps well onto his property. 

"Yesterday, the tide came up and it was 3 feet inside my bulkhead," he said.

In October, the Schubarts moved from Ponte Vedra Beach to the beachfront property in the Porpoise Point subdivision on Vilano Beach. At the time, Schubart said, it felt like moving into paradise.

"I can see the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal and downtown St. Augustine," he said.

But there’s trouble in paradise. Schubart and another neighbor, who did not wish to speak on-camera, told News4Jax that at least 100 yards of beach has eroded. They said that erosion endangers homes along the beach and places a strain on the drainage system.

“Without the beach, the overwash is a big consideration," Schubart said. "The drainage here is inadequate, so when we have storm surge, there’s nowhere for the water to go.” 

Back in October, the beach extended 100 yards out -- the length of a football field. But Hurricane Irma and back-to-back nor'easters altered the landscape.

"(Hurricane) Matthew took out a lot of the big sand dunes that used to be along this stretch of beach. Nothing was done to replenish that," Schubart said. "(Hurricane) Irma came along and what little bit (that) was rebuilt was wiped out."

But the erosion hasn’t stopped.

“If the beach was back to where it used to be when we moved in, we never had any concerns," Schubart said. "But now all of it has been eroded away, and we’re sitting here at high tide with the water washing up into the property.”

The entrance channel to Vilano inlet is currently being dredged. But according to Porpoise Point residents, the sand is going to St. Augustine Beach to replenish what was lost there. Residents said none of that sand is being used to replace sand dunes that once protected their expensive properties. 

"We sit here as property owners with our houses in jeopardy, watching all this material being sent down to the beach for tourism. What about the residents that pay county taxes on their properties? We can't get any relief at all," Schubart said. "If you’re going to take care of the tourist, what about the locals?”

WATCH: Erosion could be affecting Vilano Beach real estate values

Schubart said he pays "a significant amount" in property taxes.

"There is not a house on this stretch of beach that is less than $1.3 million," he said, adding that a lack of sand at the beach could make it hard for someone to want to invest that kind of money into one of those properties.

St. Augustine's public beach draws in a lot of people, and a lot of people spend money. But while they're enjoying the surf and sun, people living along the Vilano Beach stretch are not enjoying the idea of watching the tide creeping ever so closely into their homes. 

For now, Porpoise Point residents said, they're dealing with high tide the best they can, but they really cringe when there's a full moon, which drastically impacts the tide.

News4Jax left messages with several St. Johns County commissioners, but has not received responses from them.

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