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PrepTalks: Dr. Philip Berke “Planning for Community Resilience”

PrepTalks: Dr. Philip Berke “Planning for Community Resilience”


My FEMA colleagues asked me, “Would you
please explain before you give your talk what land-use planning is and what is
land-use about before you go into the details?” I said okay in my mind and in my
students mind it affects every aspect of how we live. Where do we put the
homes that we live in? Where do we put the shopping centers, the businesses that
we work in? What about the health care clinics, the grocery stores, the schools,
the highways, the water utility? It’s all a matter of how we design our
communities. That if we think about it You know the losses
have been growing geometrically faster than population, faster the growth, faster than the economy from hazards and disasters. And it’s not, you know
climate change has been kicking in, but more for the history of time,
it’s been how, where we design, how we design and locate where we live and
we’re not doing a very good job at it. We don’t pay much attention to it, so what I
wanted to do is talk about mainly why planning for resilience; why is it
important and then learning to build back better. I want to thank the
Department of Homeland Security, the Office of University of Programs, because
they’ve been really investing in a group of researchers around the country, in my
case for the last six or seven years, in doing some work. So we want to look at
lessons learn from the research and then, and then, we’re very much about
translating the research into action. We work with not for communities. What
we’re doing, so I’ll give you some insights. It’s migrated over to Europe as well now
we’re working in Holland, and then some conclusions. So why planning, well I think
it’s really hard to to deal with a disaster event unless you’re prepared or
unless you’re looking ahead, and the land use business it’s long before and
it’s long after. It’s not so much the preparedness, response, so if you’re going
to absorb the the the impacts that’s about vulnerability and reducing it
beforehand, recover and recover quickly, recover transitionally, build back
better, more more resilient, as well as adapt. There is so
much uncertainty. Well you could do these things without planning, but I’d say it’d
be a lot harder to do or I’d say it’d be much easier to do it with. So what we’ve been
working on for all it quite a while is this whole notion of what makes a good
plan, and why should communities, communities
do a lot of planning, and I’ll get at that in a moment,
even the smallest places. And what makes a good plan? What are the best practices?
I have a colleague Dave Gottschalk of the American Planning Association, long term
professor at University of North Carolina where I taught many years, who
passed away this morning. Yeah I just found out, but I I work closely with him
in developing these tools, and he talks about when we talk about two broad kind
of ways of thinking about a good plan should have a vision, it should set the
direction, they should have the highest fact base available in terms of the
science and technology. It should also have these policies, and I’m going to
talk about the land use policies. They guide action, right, where we’re going to
build, how we’re going to build. A good plan also needs legs. It should be
deeply embedded in the community. It’s not something that a planner or an
architect or an engineer thinks up back in the department and lays it on the
community. It must be rooted in to the people that are being affected. There
also needs to be good monitoring, good the social capital – vertical, horizontal –
coordination and and so on. Does a lot of things. I want to talk about the land use
policies in a moment, in a bit here, and it’s just not regulatory. Land use policy
from a regulatory perspective though it all happens at the local government. The
federal government can’t do that; the Constitution doesn’t allow the federal
government to regulate private property. States are allowed to do it but they
enable local governments across the u.s., so that’s where the power is. And these
are fine-grained decisions to typically ground it in you know from the parcel to
the neighborhood and so on about what a community looks like, but it also has a
lot to do with tax and senate land investments and so on infrastructure
that shape growth and land use in the community. But we did a four year study,
completed a couple of years ago, and what we did is we wanted to look at the range,
we looked at a hundred and seventy-five local governments, and we looked at their
local Hazard Mitigation plan, which I know FEMA has a big, you know, it’s a big
part of what FEMA promotes, and every local government has to have one to be
eligible for pre- and post- disaster mitigation funding. Well we wanted to
look at where were the actions to get to reducing vulnerability, promoting
mitigation. We found that the land use requirements were the lowest as you can
see here. Even though the Rose Study, which was cited previously, I haven’t
read the new one the building National Building Institute’s new one,
but the benefit cost ratio, yes, is four to one but land use that goes up higher
than that. Yet that’s the least use. We find that these plans typically rely
more on let’s focus on emergency services, because we want to maybe
elevate the generator, fix the shutters on the emergency building, or we want to
do education or structural investment kind of one-shot deals, okay, and the
plans tend to be focused on single projects at a time. They tend to be
ordered in a priority, but they’re not woven into the fabric of how land use is
governed in a community. They tend to be social isolates I call them; they’re not
well connected to how we make decisions And they tend to be
focused on an emergency management the civil for emergency managers, right, and
you can’t lay everything on emergency management. They do they’re you know
y’all the FEMA folks do there and the and the emergency have a certain skill
set, but the notion of design and planning a city is is tough to do when
you’re doing it hazard mitigation plan without help. So a lot of these plans
again are stovepiped but what I just want to say is of the 175 plans we did look
at, folks might be interested in a website we’ve developed called
mitigationguide.org. It gets a lot of hits, and in there we took the best
practices, the best elements from each plan. Okay the plans generally are do not
score well, but there are high best practice elements, and we walk through
the different elements as you walk through a plan. They’re consistent with
the FEMA guidelines and that website kind of gives some good practice. So I
did talk about this notion that local governments are doing a lot of playing.This
is a current study we’re doing. Communities, my colleague says, they’re
flooded in plans, even the smallest ones. They’re oftentimes aren’t collaborating.
These plans are weak integration. If you see here some of the maps, they’re
disconnected, but let me just say that you can be doing comprehensive planning,
parks planning, affordable housing plans required by HUD, the consolidated plans
are called, the mitigation plans required by FEMA, the Department of Transportation
plans of you know or Department transportation in in DC here requires a
Metropolitan organizations to do regional transportation plans which
trickle down to the local and on it goes, okay. So even the smallest communities
are doing these mandated federally mandated, oftentimes state mandated plans,
and so what happens is I was on a national research council committee for
a couple of years and we were looking examining coastal risk. This was after
Hurricane Sandy. So I decided where this research idea
came from was I’m gonna look at a couple of small New Jersey coastal
communities before the disaster before Sandy hit. And this is a
typical pattern this happens more frequently than we think, the hazard
mitigation plan of that community you see the blue area there that qualifies
severe repetitive loss, okay. It said it in the plan; the whole blue area is a
100-year floodplain, alright. The same community has a comprehensive
plan where the circles are, are kind of like either water gateways or the
gateways from the coast and they want to do economic redevelopment, but they
want to do tax incentives. The yellow area is the downtown plan, as well. They
want to do tax incentives, put in complete streets, invest in the
infrastructure, and so on to attract and redevelop some of the vacancies and so
on that have occurred over the last couple of, you know, generations
there. So you have two plans trying to work in the same community trying to do
opposite things. And again what we found before in that first study
was the mitigation plans, I call them little engines that could, they’re
good, they try, okay, to do mitigation but there’s a lot of other
activity out there that are not doing so well. So
we decided let’s come up with something here, and we really use this in practice
and I’ll talk about in a moment. But research-wise we said let’s there’s lots
of scorecards out there, but let’s do something that makes sense that we think
could be widespread across the U.S., and even now we’re working with Rotterdam in
Europe in Holland. So what we decided to do is let’s look at; let’s take
a small city in this case, it’s on the North Carolina coast and we’re going to
go through a three-step process. The first step is we’re going to
look at different neighborhoods in the city. Just like we think of hazards and
population groups, okay, land use policies that are come out that govern the
design and location of community of different activities they come out of
these plans and investments. And so we want to, and they change across the
landscape, they’re just not uniform and oftentimes they’re focused on
neighborhoods. You might have a downtown, you might have a residential
neighborhood, you might have a poor or an upper income the kinds of mixes of
strata or policies or strategies coming across the networks of plans changes
across any one community. So on the first phase one here, we say ok let’s look
at these neighborhoods. Ok, we’re then going to look at the hazard zones within
the neighborhood. So in this case the dark areas are the hundred-year flood
plain and the lighter areas are the sea level rise areas that will be affected
in the code and this is a highly vulnerable community. The second is we’re
going to determine the vulnerability of each of these communities – phase two. And
you can look at vulnerability in a lot of different ways. You can look at
physical vulnerability – the buildings, the infrastructure, and so on, and you can
look at social vulnerability, which has to do with the composition of the
population, their ability to adapt and adjust along with their income is one of
the measures, but there has been quite a bit of research done on that, and also, you could
look at business vulnerability. So you can come up, there are all these indices
out there that you can actually score and and by neighborhood. So we decided in
this case let’s look at the physical vulnerability. The property value
investment, okay, and that’s map two or in Phase two
there and the red is the highest investment and the lighter you
got pink, then you got the blue which is the lowest investment, okay, per
square foot in those neighborhoods. So then we decided that
the red one in the middle is the downtown, and this is a low-income
struggling seaside community that’s kind of inland from Cape Hatteras and all
that. So phase three is actually score the plan. Let’s look at all the plans in
this local government. They had a Parks and Recreation plan, they had a hazard
mitigation plan, they had a comprehensive plan required by the state, had a
mitigation plan required by FEMA, they had a small transportation plan which
funneled down from their federal funding investments for transportation, so if you
look at the third phase – three there you’ll see on the map that the reddish –
the light red and the dark red areas – we scored the plans, particularly, the
policies in the plans – the regulatory, the tax incentive, different categories whole
ranges of types of policies that you can use to guide and govern
development, okay, whether it’s affordable housing or shopping or whatever. The
bluer areas are where we’re actually reducing the plan score positive. The
bright red areas and the pink areas are where the plan score negative. A negative
score means we’re actually promoting development. We’re doing more investment
and more attempts to so if you look at the downtown high social vulnerability
it’s the light red. They’re actually promoting development. They are they’re
putting in they call it even in the plan smart growth. Smart Growth and dumb
locations. Here’s another case where we looked at social vulnerability of Fort
Lauderdale. The map on the left is a map of the different scores for social
vulnerability. Red being the most socially vulnerable. Green being the
least. Okay I put an arrow towards the Sistrunk neighborhood.
It’s a low-income African-American primarily community, and it is
experiencing quite a bit of investment in terms of an
enterprise zone has been established there, and if you look at the
comprehensive plan, they have an economic development plan, they
had seven different types of plans in the community, as well as a hazard
mitigation, but you see here the primary drivers for promoting development are in
that low-income area. So what we do is we get economic investment but very little
attention towards reducing the vulnerability. The hazard mitigation plan
gets swapped out okay that’s why the bright-red score, the lowest. The bright
green are the highest scores in the networks of plans. What
we’ve been seeing is when we do look at different cities it’s like what we’re
finding out is we’re getting an inverse correlation. Ray [garbled] at the University
of North Carolina found a similar pattern years ago, but when we’re looking
at the networks of plans, we’re finding that the cities are placing most of
their effort into raising the vulnerability. The plans score very low
but the vulnerability is very high in this case social vulnerability. The one
place that comes out positive, the blue correlation for both 100-year floodplain
and the sea level rise area, is where we found that there was a lot of emphasis
in the low-income neighborhoods, okay, established during Jim Crow era like
Sistrunk where they were doing investments for stormwater drainage, okay,
and specifically targeting low-income neighborhoods that were regularly
flooding, but the other patterns are typically the reverse and there’s a long
history the places though of doing this type of thing. We’ve worked with the
association of floodplain managers, we’ve given webinars on this. My colleague
and I Jaimie Masterson there’s a tape recording, slides, as well as, handouts and
a guidelines. We’ve translated the research which won awards and so on for
this from the American Planning Association, but we’ve translated into a
user guide so that communities can use it
and that’s been a big point of pride of ours because I want to talk about
Norfolk, Virginia. and Norfolk we’ve worked closely with in terms
of applying this card. The most well read book in Norfolk is the tidal gauge. You
got to move when should I move my car off the
streets okay and up you know that kind of thing. Then there’s a there’s a great
deal of there’s it regularly flooding. The storm water systems don’t work
drainage oftentimes and it’s just one of the highest-risk cities in america so we
worked for over a year with the Norfolk planners and emergency management staff
in walking through, and the big thing with applying the scorecard we didn’t do
it. We want cities and communities to self evaluate and to engage on
themselves and so what we found was this integrated, we’ve helped
develop this approach Norfolk has a whole series of plans, comprehensive plan,
they are got a Rockefeller 100 resilient city foundation of investment; they
won the award award to do a resilience plan, they also have had
Hazard Mitigation, comprehensive plans, small area plans focused on the downtown,
different neighborhoods. What did they do? They came up with an integrated strategy
and let me just tell you about this if you look at the red areas they said okay
these are the high economic engines. We want to enhance these areas. They’re
already developed; we’re going to make costly infrastructure investments,
structural, to protect them. Okay we’re going to also invest in better transit
and so on make more dense places, but they’re going to do the
major infrastructure investment there. It’s too expensive to do it around the
whole city. The yellow areas on the other hand they said, okay what we want to do
is a gradual retreat. We’re going to do a FEMA mitigation plan for
gradual retreat. There’s severe repetitive loss there. We’re gonna do
gradual buyouts. We’re not going to expand our infrastructure, water, sewer
transportation. So you look at their capital improvements program, they’re not
going to expand it, but this often happens though, you get one side doing
something different than the other, but they coordinated with their
infrastructure. They’re going to down zone and they’re they’re
going to gradually retreat the yellow areas, okay.
There and and the notion is in the future they want to do the green areas,
the yellow and the red areas are both highly vulnerable, okay, to
future flooding and sea level rise. The green areas if you can see them are not
vulnerable. They’re higher in elevation. They’re vulnerable but not as vulnerable
and what they want to do there is they want to do Smart Growth they’re
basically. They want to do mixed-use. They want to increase the densities.
They want to make walkable neighborhoods this is the language that
they’re using. They’ve just adopted their unified
development ordinance which gives these this plan teeth, and it’s kind of an
integrated network approach. I think it’s a more successful more efficient use of
resources. I was just going to say that you know what the way we use
infrastructure we always don’t have to build like in Houston area. We build a
highway and then it stimulates all kind of development around the highway, right,
and a lot of that development is in the floodplain because there’s no land use
controls. Here they’ll take infrastructure, and they’ll make the
argument that we want to live with the water. Living with the water we’re gonna be able
to create a viable city, and like in Rotterdam here. Here’s water plaza where it could be a soccer field, a basketball
court or whatever. The community uses it. It’s in a low-income Muslim neighborhood.
There was a lot of intense work by the city planning staff to make
it work for that neighborhood and there was a lot of engagement going on a
significant investment. So I think that we can actually create infrastructures
that are actually compatible with land-use activities and so on. So just some quick
conclusions I see my time just about up here is that the land-use question the
governing the guiding the growth the location and design of development is
the least used strategy in 180-175 Hazard Mitigation plans we looked at. Yet
it has the highest benefit cost ratio among all different types of strategies
that we might use. Plans are underfunded though when we start talking
about mitigation and largely it’s because of fragmentation, and there’s
even conflict across. We think they’re too often we’ve
been finding that there’s, there’s too much you know when it comes to
disadvantaged communities there is a significant investment but without
mitigation so you only to see these areas flood again and folks forced
further into deprivation. So I have a set of policy implications, they’re kind of
self legible but I think we can start from the top and the federal government
get better coordination instead of mandating stovepipe plans and getting
fragmented efforts at the local level. We also can provide stronger incentives
through there’s a community rating system and a variety of other
things that that could be used. Because land use is such a localized activity, fine-grained, it’s really important that
in terms of that there’s a bottom-up perspective to it and building capacity
is very important. We think that a lot of data is produced, and we expect
users to just take it and run with it, but it doesn’t always work that way with
tool. We have to be trialing tools that are not only maybe could benefit by
research, but also that you know designed in a way tailored in a way that
communities can use them on their own and self evaluate. So I’ll just kind of
end it there but better evaluation and better building capacity. [Applause]

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