Advisory Services Panel—Northern Colorado: Estes Park, Fort Collins, and Loveland (Resilience Panel)
July 23, 2014
Date: June 22-27, 2014
Location: Northern Colorado: Estes Park, Fort Collins, and Loveland
Sponsor: Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, Town of Estes Park, City of Fort Collins, City of Loveland
Subject Area: Resilience
Panel Chair: Jim Heid
For the panel report, please visit ULI’s Knowledge Finder
BACKGROUND AND PANEL ASSIGNMENT
The Community Foundation of Northern Colorado invited the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland and the Town of Estes Park to sponsor an advisory services resilience panel. The goal of the panel was to develop optimum regional strategies to reduce the effects of natural disasters such as the 2013 Flood and wild fires that threaten these communities nearly annually, and to recover from and adapt to such disasters. As Northern Colorado’s economy continues to grow at a rate that outpaces those of most other places nationally, the challenges that natural events mount will continue to play a greater role. The intent of this resilience panel was to advise these three Northern Colorado communities on the best ways to prepare for those challenges and to make their unpredictability a part of regular dialog and planning.
The sponsor asked a series of questions relating to:
- Land Use
- Redesigning for reconstruction
- Transportation resilience
- Building effective organizational framework for holistic regional response for long-term recovery.
- Financial Response: how to best cope with financial demands for immediate cash flow, and how to maximize reimbursements and recovery
Public Education and Engagement
- How to keep the public informed and manage community expectations
- Is there a good framework or model(s) for a long-term comprehensive program to keep the community aware of/educated about a disaster event
- Flood and Fire Protection
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The panel recommendations follow three guiding themes to best address resilience tin both the near-term and long-term: building for resiliency, financing for resiliency, leading for resiliency.
These recommendations include:
- Create enduring processes and structures to ensure a strategic and shared approach to stewardship and funding over the long term. For example, the Big Thompson River Restoration Coalition could act as an agency that provides strategic coordination of preventative measures that address fire, flood and drought. A regional coalition should coordinate watershed planning, create a vision plan for living with the river as part of the regional green infrastructure, develop an action plan to reduce risk of flooding and damage to property, and coordinate and seek funding for improvements operations and maintenance.
- Allow rivers to act as rivers. Development patterns should be shaped to provide reasonable space for flood lands and even the ability for rivers to move within their floodplain. Recognizing the need to protect people, infrastructure and property land uses changes should be considered in the creek corridor, 100 year and 500 year flood areas. Develop a strategy of providing soft and hard infrastructures to create different levels of protection of and within the floodplain. This allows natural variations of the river within defined limits while protecting developed areas from the devastation of uncontrolled flooding.
- Integrate infrastructure planning. Ensure that critical infrastructure – emergency communications, emergency institutions (hospitals and shelters), emergency access, food supply, power and fuel supply, water supply, housing, sewage treatment and outflow — remains functional during a disaster. Establishing a regionally planned and connected infrastructure system that goes beyond simple interconnections and mutual aid agreements is critical. Build on the success of the Plat River Power Authority and evaluate the water, sewer, transportation, and communication systems for vulnerabilities and identify regional projects to increase overall regional resilience.
- Commit to water conservation. Conservation of water as the region grows must play a more central role in the conversation about resilience. Consider the following strategies: incentive based conservation rebates, adopting tiered rates, adopting a maximum irrigation water budget, requiring weather based irrigation controllers, and retrofitting water fixtures when homes sell.
- Widen I-25 for growth with dedicated HOV/BRT that can serve as 3rd lane for emergency access.
- Make your communities aware of the connection between worker housing and resilience. Address housing gaps per community by developing a range of unit types at various affordability levels including: smaller efficiency units suitable for seasonal workers, mixed – income multi-family units, and single family starter homes. Explore financial and policy mechanisms such as public private partnerships, lodging taxes, developer fees, density bonuses to incentivize development of more diverse and affordable workforce housing.
- Communities should aggressively continue to remove structures in the 100-year floodplain. Consider a floodplain occupancy fee for properties within the floodplain to use for acquisition, demolition, incentives, and restoration. Explore event based (parametric) and self-insurance policies.
- Develop a coordinated economic development strategy for the region to emphasize regional strengths and promote cross-selling from one city to the others (e.g., collateral material, visitor centers, and online media), especially in the leisure and travel market.
- Collaboration is critical. Establish a summit of regional officials to explore ongoing agreements on resilience issues. Encourage mayors and chairs gatherings, regular meetings of local government senior staff, and forge public, private, and nonprofit leaders into knowledge-sharing networks critical to establishing a resilient region.
- Establish a short-term small business resilience task force. Establish programs to identify resilience weaknesses, develop business continuity and risk mitigation plans, help strengthen trusted relationships with counselors and support networks, recruit and encourage business resilience planning, establish future business recovery grants/revolving loan funds, and create incentives for businesses to engage in assessment and mitigation activities.
- Strengthen communication systems. Make critical information readily accessible and easily understandable before, during, and after a disaster. Foster unexpected public conversations by bringing diverse groups of the larger community together in unexpected combinations to build civic capacity and find solutions for the region’s future.