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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Harris County, Texas: Flood Control District Local Buyout Program

July 15, 2020

Harris County, Texas established a voluntary home buyout program through the regional government agency, the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), that can serve as an example for other local jurisdictions considering retreat from coastal and riverine flood-prone areas. 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 functions. HCFCD has developed an effective communication and outreach strategy to educate the public and encourage program participation. Historically, properties have been acquired with grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance program, Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, and local funding from a dedicated ad valorem property tax (i.e., a tax based on a property’s assessed value). Other state, regional, and local jurisdictions considering managed retreat could implement a similar comprehensive buyout model that operates in both a pre- and post-disaster context to reduce flood risks and engages the community throughout the entire process. 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.

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — New York City, New York: Land Acquisition and Flood Buyout Programs

July 15, 2020

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) offers flood mitigation buyouts within the NYC watershed, in cooperation with the state, through a Flood Buyout Program that can serve as a model for other coastal and riverine jurisdictions considering retreat. These buyouts are part of a comprehensive flood hazard mitigation program that relies on scientific studies termed Local Flood Analyses (LFA). LFA enable NYC DEP to identify solutions to reduce flooding, which may involve buyouts, and then to fund and implement recommended projects. NYC DEP’s buyouts are primarily funded by local sewer and water bills and may be supplemented by grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Notably, NYC DEP administers a Land Acquisition Program — in addition to its Flood Buyout Program — with a focus on conserving land within the NYC watershed to protect water quality. This dual approach to both buyouts to mitigate flood risk and open space acquisitions to enhance water quality is a unique model that other state and local governments can replicate to achieve co-benefits through land acquisitions. Collectively, NYC’s multiple programs and projects can provide an example for other land-use planners and decisionmakers on how managed retreat through buyouts can be supported through a science-based, comprehensive approach that aims to maximize floodplain hazard mitigation and community resilience. 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.

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Long Beach, California: Los Cerritos Wetlands Restoration and Land Swap

July 15, 2020

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Oil Consolidation and Restoration Project (project) provides an example of how public-private land swap arrangements can be aligned with environmental restoration and protection plans, and used to advance long-term visions for managed retreat. The Los Cerritos Wetlands Complex, located in Long Beach, California, has faced decades of degradation from human activities and development. Much of this remaining wetlands area is privately owned and used to conduct oil operations. The proposed project would transfer 154 acres of privately owned wetlands to public ownership as part of a land swap arrangement. Specifically, as a part of the land swap, the 154 acres currently used for oil production will be exchanged for five acres of wetlands currently owned by the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority. The land swap will facilitate restoration of a major portion of the wetlands via a mitigation bank, increase public access, and reduce the oil production footprint and consolidate operations. The land swap plan also involves a number of environmental and social tradeoffs, however. These considerations can provide lessons and recommendations for other local governments studying land swaps as a legal tool to facilitate retreat in coastal areas. 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.

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Big Sur Land Trust—Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement Project (Carmel FREE)

January 2020

The Big Sur Land Trust in partnership with the County of Monterey is leading implementation of the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement (Carmel FREE) project that will restore habitat and reduce flood risks in the lower Carmel River watershed. The project will use nature-based approaches to reduce flood risks to nearby properties by restoring the natural river corridor and habitats. Old levees in need of maintenance along the River will be removed to allow restoration of the natural floodplain, which will improve water quality and habitats, and recharge groundwater. A new causeway bridge for Highway 1 will be built to restore hydrological connectivity and facilitate restoration of wetlands on the project site that are adjacent to the Carmel Lagoon. Additionally, new trails will be constructed throughout the project site to create recreational amenities for residents. These activities are anticipated to restore approximately 100 acres of wetlands and other habitats delivering environmental benefits and also enhancing flood resilience from sea-level rise and more frequent storms for businesses and residents in the Carmel Valley. This project demonstrates how public-private partnerships with land trusts can be used to facilitate land acquisitions and support ecosystem-based restoration projects. 

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Making California’s Coast Resilient to Sea-Level Rise: Principles for Aligned State Action

April 2020

Co-developed by numerous state and regional agencies, Making California’s Coast Resilient to Sea-Level Rise: Principles for Aligned State Action is an outline of six principles for coordinated planning and adaptation around sea-level rise (SLR) in the state of California. The principles call for all supporting agencies to adopt a minimum SLR estimate of 3.5 feet by 2050. This assumption aligns with concerns expressed in the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy that SLR will occur more quickly and severely than had originally been anticipated (new estimates anticipate California’s SLR reaching 7 feet or more by 2100). The principles include goals and objectives for agencies to implement resilience projects; use high-quality science; build resilience-based partnerships and communication networks; align policies across agencies; and support local resilience efforts. The guidelines aim to ensure that all of the state’s management, decisionmaking, and regulatory activities are “guided by a common, clear, and fundamental vision” to increase California’s coastal resilience and better adapt and prepare for climate change impacts.

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Social Cohesion: The Secret Weapon in the Fight for Equitable Climate Resilience

May 2015

From the Center for American Progress, this report discusses the role that social cohesion plays in preparedness and response to climate change induced extreme weather events, with a focus on the vulnerability of low-income communities. Methods to integrate community resilience into climate resilience, and specific recommendations to foster climate and social resilience are provided. In addition to the value of social cohesion in climate resilience, the report details how addressing the unique housing, economic and health vulnerabilities of low-income groups will in turn have benefits for the community at large.

Author or Affiliated User: Danielle Baussan

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Summer Sprout Program - Cleveland, Ohio

The Summer Sprout Program in Cleveland, Ohio is a partnership between the City and Ohio State University that helps communities establish and maintain thriving neighborhood garden spaces and provides educational opportunities to develop community gardening experts.   The program was first initiated in 1976 and grew in 1977 to include a partnership with Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County (OSUECC) to include educational components. The City of Cleveland Land Bank makes vacant city-owned lots available for community gardening uses and the program provides seeds, soil testing, tilling services, and other materials and services to help establish gardens and keep them running.

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Climate Adaptation Investment and the Community Reinvestment Act

June 2019

This report was conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Harvard University to explore the connection between climate adaptation and resilience and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which encourages banks to invest in and address the credit needs of low- and moderate-income areas and underserved rural areas. The CRA was enacted in 1977 and, according to the Federal Reserve, “requires the Federal Reserve and other federal banking regulators to encourage financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Jesse Keenan, Elizabeth Mattiuzzi

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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

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Wells-Goodfellow Neighborhood Green Space Project - St. Louis, Missouri

August 2017

The Green City Coalition (Coalition) -- a partnership between the Metropolitan Sewer District, the City of St. Louis, Missouri Department of Conservation, and the St. Louis Development Corporation -- is leading the conversion of approximately 9 acres of vacant land into greenspace for stormwater management and recreation purposes. The Wells Goodfellow neighborhood in St. Louis has the highest proportion of vacant land in the city, and also struggles with combined sewer overflows, basement backups, and street flooding that affect the Bissell Point Watershed broadly.

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