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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. 

Related Organizations: Village of Newtok, Alaska, State of Alaska

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970

The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970 (URA) (42 U. S. C. §§ 4621 et seq. (2020); 49 C. F. R. pt. 24 (2020)) is a federal law enacted to provide standard and predictable real property acquisition and relocation expenses for homeowners and tenants of land acquired through eminent domain. URA ensures consistent treatment for people displaced through federal programs or with federal funding. State and local governments can learn and draw from URA when evaluating the amount and types of relocation assistance potentially provided for bought-out homeowners and tenants as a part of comprehensive retreat strategies.

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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Case Study: Sawmill Community Land Trust - Albuquerque, New Mexico

July 25, 2020

The Sawmill Community Land Trust (Sawmill CLT) in Albuquerque, NM provides an example of how CLTs can support community redevelopment and reduce displacement of existing residents. The Sawmill CLT was formed out of a community-driven planning process to redevelop the Sawmill-Wells Park neighborhood (between Old Town and downtown Albuquerque). The neighborhood had become blighted due to underinvestment and pollution from industrial facilities. The CLT’s first project, called Arbolera de Vida (Orchard of Life), was developed on a 27-acre formerly contaminated industrial property that it acquired from the city and facilitated clean up and redevelopment to include permanently affordable housing and other community amenities.

Related Organizations: Sawmill Community Land Trust, City of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Case Study: Florida Keys Community Land Trust

July 25, 2020

The Florida Keys Community Land Trust (CLT) demonstrates how land trusts can deliver resilient affordable housing options in disaster-affected areas. The Florida Keys, a 125-mile long chain of islands off the southern tip of Florida in Monroe County, were devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Irma. Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 hurricane and its sustained winds of 132 mph and 8-foot storm surge devastated homes, businesses, and infrastructure in the Lower and Middle Keys. Twenty-five percent of the homes in the Florida Keys were damaged or destroyed by the storm, with disproportionate impacts on manufactured homes that made up the bulk of affordable housing in the County.

Related Organizations: Florida Keys Community Land Trust

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Case Study: Homestead Community Land Trust - King County, Washington

July 26, 2020

In Seattle and King County, Washington, the Homestead Community Land Trust (Homestead CLT) is helping to preserve existing and build new affordable housing that incorporates green design features. The CLT currently stewards 13 acres of land with more than 200 homes for low- and middle-income homeowners earning 80 percent or less of area median income (AMI). Recent projects have incorporated green design features to increase the sustainability of land trust homes. The CLT is currently building twelve “net-zero” energy townhomes in area Renton, WA near transit, which will reduce both energy and transit costs for homeowners and help the region meet greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Related Organizations: Homestead Community Land Trust

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Case Study: Irvine Community Land Trust - Irvine, California

July 26, 2020

The Irvine Community Land Trust (Irvine CLT) presents an example of a city-established CLT designed to support infill development of sustainable, permanently affordable housing. The CLT’s developments meet the City’s green housing standards by incorporating green design features (like energy and water saving utilities, low-energy lighting, renewable energy power). Housing developments also incorporate other community amenities like parks, community space, and community gardens. Additionally, Irvine CLT is building housing to provide services to residents with special needs; for example, its Doria housing project reserved 10 percent of homes for people with a history of homelessness, including veterans and people with mental illnesses.

Related Organizations: Irvine Community Land Trust

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Case Study: Oakland Community Land Trust - Oakland, California

July 26, 2020

The Oakland Community Land Trust (OakCLT), in Oakland, California, presents an example of how land trusts can help to reduce displacement pressures in gentrifying cities. It was created in 2009 to stabilize housing threatened with foreclosure as a result of the recession and mortgage crisis. Through mobilization of residents and a local community organization, Urban Strategies Council, the Oakland CLT was formed to acquire and rehabilitate properties in foreclosure. Since it was established, OakCLT has acquired and preserved approximately 50 units of housing and stewards multi-use and commercial properties that provide affordable rents for culturally important businesses and grassroots organizations.

Related Organizations: Oakland Community Land Trust

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies - Oakland, California

July 29, 2020

Oakland, California’s Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies (CORE) program is a free educational and training program offered by the Oakland Fire Department that promotes the creation of emergency preparedness in the face of a disaster event. Offered mainly to individuals, neighborhood groups, and community-based organizations, CORE training focuses on teaching its students how to become more self-sufficient during emergency events for a period of up to 10 days following a disaster. Outreach to attract participants has focused on reaching lower-income communities, multilingual individuals, disabled residents, and other groups or people with access and functional needs. The overall purpose of the CORE program is to not only improve access to disaster response training, materials, and services, but also to reduce risks associated with current and future climate events. Since its founding, CORE has reached over 20,000 people throughout the Oakland community.

Related Organizations: Oakland, California Fire Department

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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Tehama, California Elevating Homes

The City of Tehama, California is working to protect vulnerable residents from flooding through elevation of their homes. Tehama is adjacent to the Sacramento River in the northern Central Valley and has endured several floods over the years. As climate change is anticipated to increase the potential for flooding in this area, residents are at a greater risk of losing their homes to flooding. Many of the residents are unable to pay for the cost of elevating their homes, prompting the city to patch together non-municipal funding sources to substantially reduce residents’ costs. The majority of the cost was covered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) through Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948, and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. The remaining 10% of the cost could be covered by funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program for low income residents. 

Related Organizations: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), City of Tehama, California

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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