After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-Term Resilience and Adaptability
October 9, 2013
Date: July 14-19, 2013
Location: New York and New Jersey
Sponsor: ULI Foundation
Chair: John K. McIlwain
Co-Chairs: Joe Azrack and David M. Ricci
Subject Area: Disaster relief
Leading up to the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, ULI has prepared After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-Term Resilience and Adaptability, which offers guidance on post-disaster rebuilding and building in anticipation of future disasters in a way that helps preserve the environment, boost economic prosperity, and foster a high quality of life.
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The reality of climate change will forever change community building, with planning and development decisions increasingly based on strengthening community resilience through what is built, and where and how it is built, according to a report released by ULI.
The Panel Process
ULI has a long history of advising communities on repositioning after disasters. At the request of three ULI District Councils—ULI New York, ULI Northern New Jersey, and ULI Philadelphia—ULI convened an Advisory Services panel in July 2013 to evaluate local and federal plans for strengthening community resiliency post-Sandy and to offer guidance on rebuilding efforts.
The panel of 25 members represented a broad range of expertise in infrastructure, design, real estate development, finance and investment, and public policy professions and included climate change and sustainability experts, including ULI New York and New Jersey members and national and international leaders.
The panel began with a boat tour of the New York and New Jersey region. Panel members were then separated into teams to tour several sites: Long Island and Queens (Breezy Point, the Rockaways, Long Beach, and Garden City); the eastern shores of Staten Island and New Jersey (including the northern New Jersey beaches down to Long Branch); and Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Hoboken, and Jersey City. The panel then conducted more than100 interviews with residents, politicians, climate change experts, developers, designers, and others.
Summary of Recommendations
Candid insights and observations from the panel formed the basis for After Sandy, a comprehensive, practical set of 23 recommendations focused on four areas: land use and development; infrastructure, technology and capacity; finance, investment and insurance; and leadership and governance.
Land Use and Development
- Recommendation 1: Reconstitute the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force as an ongoing resilience task force and use it as a model for other regions.
- Recommendation 2: Promote regional coordination.
- Recommendation 3: Identify those parts of the region to protect and invest in that are critical to the regional economy, culture, and health, safety, and welfare.
- Recommendation 4: Identify local land use typologies in order to assess the built environment for resiliency.
- Recommendation 5: Use defined land typologies in a cost/benefit analysis to identify less vulnerable “value zones” for long-term planning and public spending.
Infrastructure, Technology, and Capacity
- Recommendation 6: Develop a regional infrastructure vision, review it regularly, and set priorities.
- Recommendation 7: Consider long-term resiliency when evaluating rebuilding strategies.
- Recommendation 8: Design protective infrastructure to do more than protect.
- Recommendation 9: Explore the potential of soft systems.
- Recommendation 10: Allow for safe failure of some noncritical infrastructure systems.
- Recommendation 11: Create infrastructure recovery plans for quick partial service restoration.
- Recommendation 12: Encourage individual preparedness during short-term infrastructure outages.
Finance, Investment and Insurance
- Recommendation 13: Implement creative extramunicipal financing mechanisms.
- Recommendation 14: Revise federal funding assistance to allow local discretion and direct funding flows to communities when possible.
- Recommendation 15: Provide small communities with financial support to replace lost local tax dollars.
- Recommendation 16: Accurately price climate risk into property value and insurance.
- Recommendation 17: Allow partial compliance and mitigation measures in order to create flexibility in insurance premiums.
- Recommendation 18: Design financing to help relieve the recovery burden for low-income households and small businesses.
Leadership and Governance
- Recommendation 21: Build capacity for decision making at the local level.
- Recommendation 22: Create programs to provide knowledge sharing and professional training.
- Recommendation 23: Make critical information easily understandable and readily accessible both during and after a disaster.
The report’s overriding message: The increased frequency of severe weather events, as well as rising sea levels, are compelling the real estate industry to address climate change by working with the public sector to implement adaptive measures that better protect both the built and natural environment.
Photo courtesy of FEMA / Andrea Booher