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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Punta Gorda, Florida: Climate Adaptation and Comprehensive Plans and Updates

July 15, 2020

The harborside city of Punta Gorda, Florida has responded to the threat of coastal storms and climate change impacts with two different plans - a Climate Adaptation Plan and a local comprehensive plan - to promote, manage, and protect the city’s natural resources and plan for development in a way that minimizes risks to people and property and conserves ecosystems. The Adaptation Plan is unique because it was developed through a “citizen-driven process” designed to identify effective local responses to climate change and includes a variety of adaptation options that enjoy broad community support, including managed retreat or “planned relocation.” The city incorporated the Climate Adaptation Plan into its comprehensive plan to ensure that climate change is considered in land-use decisionmaking efforts. In 2019, the city released an update to its Adaptation Plan that identifies the city’s progress to date and future adaptation actions the city could consider implementing. Punta Gorda provides a useful example of how effective community engagement can enhance adaptation planning and build community support for managed retreat strategies and how adaptation plans can be used to inform future land-use decisions to ensure safer, more resilient development. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

 

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies

July 15, 2020

This report, produced by the Georgetown Climate Center, features 17 case studies about how states, local governments, and communities across the country are approaching questions about managed retreat. Together, the case studies highlight how different types of legal and policy tools are being considered and implemented across a range of jurisdictions — from urban, suburban, and rural to riverine and coastal — to help support new and ongoing discussions on the subject. These case studies are intended to provide transferable lessons and potential management practices for coastal state and local policymakers evaluating managed retreat as one part of a strategy to adapt to climate change on the coast. The case studies in this report were informed by policymakers, practitioners, and community members leading, engaging in, or participating in the work presented in this report. This report was written to support Georgetown Climate Center’s Managed Retreat Toolkit, which also includes additional case study examples and a deeper exploration of specific legal and policy tools for use by state and local decisionmakers, climate adaptation practitioners, and planners.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Katie Spidalieri, Isabelle Smith

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Georgetown Climate Center Managed Retreat Toolkit

July 15, 2020

Managed retreat, or the voluntary movement and transition of people and ecosystems away from vulnerable coastal areas, is increasingly becoming part of the conversation as coastal states and communities face difficult questions on how best to protect people, development, infrastructure, and coastal ecosystems from sea-level rise, flooding, and land loss. Georgetown Climate Center’s new Managed Retreat Toolkit combines legal and policy tools, best and emerging practices, and case studies to support peer learning and decisionmaking around managed retreat and climate adaptation. 

Authors or Affiliated Users: Georgetown Climate Center, Katie Spidalieri, Annie Bennett

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Citizen Science: Mapping Urban Heat Islands in Richmond, Virginia

The urban heat island mapping project in Richmond, Virginia is a collaborative project that brings community members together to collect temperature variation data in order to design community-scale adaptation plans. Richmond is a highly populated city that has encountered increased urban heat island effect in recent years. While current technology such as satellites can provide city-scale urban heat data, a more detailed, block-by-block examination of temperature variation in each community has to be studied to understand which communities are most vulnerable to the extreme heat. "Citizen-scientists" were gathered to help measure temperatures in their own city, and related human activities or land use. The citizen-scientists included students from the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University; the Virginia Academy of Science; the City of Richmond’s Sustainability Office; and Groundwork RVA, a nonprofit focused on empowering local young people in the communities.  

Resource Category: Monitoring and Reporting

 

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Catalyst Miami Disaster Matched Savings Account

The Catalyst Miami Disaster Matched Savings Account was established as a resource for low- and moderate-income individuals within Miami, Florida neighborhoods to help families build financial stability, and better withstand disaster events. The program helps households build assets and savings through the use of financial coaching, credit coaching, and lending circles. The program encourages savings behavior and offers a 1-to-1 match as an incentive. In addition, Catalyst Miami distributes disaster preparedness kits to those who partake in the Program by saving the full amount of the cost of the kit. It also provides important information about hurricane season, along with emergency preparedness resources available from local government and community partners both before and after storms. By supplying communities with these disaster preparedness kits, as well as with teaching participants how to bank and save responsibly, Catalyst Miami helps low-income, underserved communities better withstand the shocks – economic and otherwise – often associated with disaster events. 

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Post-Disaster Community Investments in Lumberton Through the North Carolina State Acquisition and Relocation Fund for Buyout Relocation Assistance

2020

Lumberton, North Carolina provides one example of how state funding for relocation assistance can help support local buyouts and community investments in underserved areas. In 2016, the small community of Lumberton was devastated by Hurricane Matthew when the Lumber River flooded over 870 households, as well as a number of businesses. As the city was beginning to recover, only two years later, Lumberton was hit a second time by Hurricane Florence, resulting in damage to over 500 structures. As of 2019, Lumberton is seeking to leverage several grants and funding programs, including North Carolina’s State Acquisition and Relocation Fund (SARF), to rebuild the community and provide residents with relocation assistance to obtain new homes in Lumberton through a state-local partnership. Specifically, with funding from SARF, the local government is considering opportunities to invest in new homes in one existing, but underserved neighborhood of Lumberton that can offer safer homes for bought-out residents. As SARF and the ongoing work in Lumberton demonstrate, state and local governments can support voluntary, post-disaster transitions of people and minimize negative impacts to individuals, communities, and local tax bases from buyouts by reinvesting in underserved areas within their municipalities. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Bronzeville Microgrid - Chicago, Illinois

2019

The Bronzeville Microgrid project deployed in a neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois demonstrates how utilities can invest in pilot microgrid projects to benefit underserved communities. Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) implemented a 7.7 MW community microgrid that will provide service to approximately 770 customers in the historically black neighborhood of Bronzeville Chicago. The project, which is a key component of the utility’s “Community of the Future Initiative,” will serve an area that includes facilities that provide critical services, including hospitals, police headquarters, fire departments, a library, public works buildings, restaurants, health clinics, public transportation, educational facilities, and churches. Bronzeville, considered to be a climate vulnerable urban area, was selected using a data-driven process and based on many socioeconomic factors including income, public health, and lack of investment in the community’s existing infrastructure. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — State of New Jersey: Blue Acres Buyout Program

July 15, 2020

The New Jersey Blue Acres Buyout Program is a nationally recognized example of a longstanding, state-run buyout program. Blue Acres works closely with municipalities throughout the state to identify privately owned properties that are routinely threatened or flooded due to sea-level rise and more frequent weather events. The program works directly with local governments to prioritize comprehensive buyouts of affected neighborhoods, instead of individual properties, and restores and protects the properties to maximize the flood and cost-reduction benefits for communities and the environment. To accomplish effective state-local coordination, the program has a diversified staff that meets local needs including case workers who work directly with participants in each buyout area, and a financial team that negotiates mortgage forgiveness with banks and other financial lenders on behalf of homeowners. As climate change worsens and makes extreme weather events more common, other states and local governments may increasingly evaluate the potential for buyouts, particularly in coastal jurisdictions. Decisionmakers could consider institutionalizing buyouts as a part of comprehensive climate adaptation and coastal and floodplain management strategies to encourage neighborhoods to relocate to safer, higher ground areas and restore ecosystems to attain flood, natural resources, and other community benefits.

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: Floodplain Buyout Program

July 15, 2020

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services (CMSS) — a county-wide regional utility in North Carolina — has been administering a Floodplain Buyout Program to relocate vulnerable residents out of floodplains and reduce long-term flood damage. The buyout program is focused on risk reduction and flood mitigation best practices, where once bought out, properties are returned to open space uses to restore their natural beneficial flood retention and water quality improvement functions and provide other community amenities, like parks and trails. CMSS has purchased more than 400 flood-prone homes and businesses and enabled over 700 families and businesses to relocate to less vulnerable locations outside of the floodplain. CMSS has also supported a number of leaseback arrangements on a case-by-case basis with property owners to increase participation in the buyout program and reduce the county’s property maintenance costs. The program has been funded through a combination of federal and local government sources, with leasebacks also supporting the recapture of some costs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Floodplain Buyout Program is an example of a nationally recognized approach to supporting voluntary retreat in a riverine floodplain. Other local governments could consider adopting a comprehensive buyout program like Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s or individual program elements, like local funding options or leasebacks, to help support voluntary retreat decisions in coastal areas experiencing sea-level rise, impacts from disaster events, and land loss. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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From Newtok to Mertarvik: A Native Alaskan Tribal Village Relocation

Several tribal villages in Alaska are facing impending community-wide climate impacts of permafrost degradation, sea level rise, erosion, and flooding  which require immediate adaptation measures, including the potential of managed retreat. However, only one, the Village of Newtok, is in the process of actively relocating to a new site, Mertarvik, which was conveyed to Newtok through a federal land grant. The Newtok team  composed of federal, state, and local tribal representatives  is prioritizing the development of housing, roads, energy, and an evacuation center in the near-term. The project goal is to relocate everyone in Newtok to Mertarvik by 2023. The Newtok relocation has been funded by a patchwork of federal and state agencies for over 20 years. This case study can highlight one approach and ongoing lessons learned for state and local jurisdictions confronting larger-scale questions about managed retreat, and the process of transitioning entire communities to higher ground. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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