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Complacency and cavalier attitudes might have crept in following 2005's New Orleans gamechanger but it's hard to fathom such a catastrophe falling on deaf ears again from a disaster planning standpoint.

A 25-person Urban Land Institute (ULI) panel has offered specific recommendations after Sandy, which are summarized and explained in more detail. The recommendations presented by the panel were derived from a multidisciplinary perspective.

As you may expect, these recommendations rely heavily on collaboration among varied disciplines and stakeholdersand having interdependent roles along these lines:

(1) land use and development; (2) infrastructure, technology, and capacity; (3) finance, investment, and insurance; and (4) leadership and governance.

Though not exhaustive, these recommendations hit on major challenges facing regions and some innovative methods for addressing them. There is no unilateral, standard approach to this topic; these tools and policy changes are steps that must often be taken in conjunction with one another and will constantly evolve with new information.

At first glance, the recommendations tend to be more strategic in nature and less precise and detailed than some communities may expect, however, this approach also allows flexibility in adapting the recommendations to the local situation. That assumption is reflected in the recommendations below.


No. 1

Reconstitute the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding task force as an ongoing resilience task force and use it as a model for other regions.
The main objective of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force is to drive and ensure "cabinetlevel, government-wide, and region-wide coordination to help communities as they are making decisions about long-term rebuilding." The task force should be reconstituted as a continuing resilience task force composed of federal representatives and representatives from New York state and New Jersey. The federal representatives would have the authority and mandate to identify, prioritize, and allocate funds for major infrastructure in the region in consultation with the state and city representatives. The panel believes that there is a need for high-level coordinated leadership for project prioritization and resource allocation.

No. 2

Promote regional coordination.
Interconnected infrastructure networks are regional in scope, but they also have neighborhood-byneighborhood impacts. A change in the way local governments organize themselves is needed to build an infrastructure framework that is flexible, that is sensitive to community context, and that supports the development of capacity for local disaster planning and response decision making. Coastal protection demands cooperation among people and governments that share geomorphology. Without well-informed collective decision making about priorities and methods, major new coastal works will be realized slowly if at all, and their effectiveness will be reduced.

No. 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.
Every region has areas that are of special importance to its economic vitality and well-being. In addition, there are areas that are essential to its health and welfare, and to its unique cultural and historic heritage. An essential task of regional coordination is to identify these priority areas for protection and investment long term, given that resources are finite and all desirable projects cannot be undertaken.

No. 4

Identify local land use typologies in order to assess the built environment for resiliency.
The first step in determining a region's capacity for resiliency and in developing and implementing the right tools to improve that capacity is to conduct an assessment of existing land use typologies and local resources to determine the unique vulnerability of each. Identifying typologies requires taking into account many factors, including environmental, political, cultural, and economic conditions, as well as the locality's density, transit access, scale, and so forth. The ability of the region to prepare and respond to future events is really the sum of the abilities of each of its localities.

No. 5

Use defined land topologies in a cost/benefit analysis to identify less vulnerable "value zones" for long-term planning and public spending.
Climate change's impacts have forced many communities to rethink the ways in which their land is used. Many are facing the politically challenging task of balancing the desire to continue existing land uses for homes and businesses with often dramatic increases in the costs of protecting and rebuilding those structures determined to be at risk. In responding to the costs of preserving and protecting certain high-risk locations, communities will need to develop new land use overlay zones that balance the value of continuing their current use with the cost of doing so. As jurisdictions in coastal regions face this reality, over time it will lead to new policies, investment strategies, and outcomes that will shift investment from high-risk areas to those less vulnerable.

No. 6

Develop a regional infrastructure vision, review it regularly and set priorities.
It is essential that a vision of a comprehensive infrastructure framework be created that relates to the growing demand and unique physical characteristics of the region as a coherent whole, not as a series of independent parts. Because funding will never be sufficient for designing and rebuilding all elements of the region's comprehensive infrastructure system at once, priorities need to be set regionally for which systems need upgrading for resilience first.

No. 7

Consider long-term resiliency when considering long-term rebuilding strategies.
The available financial resources for capital investments fall short of what is needed for the proposed resiliency and protection projects. Cost/benefit analysis of infrastructure investments is an excellent tool for regional decision makers to use in order to comprehensively evaluate the implementation strategies of long-term resiliency. To select a rational sequence and strategy for implementing resiliency measures, criteria for prioritization need to be established that include a cost/benefit assessment of criticality of need, protection of market value, and potential market value to be created, among other factors.

No. 8

Design protective infrastructure to do more than protect.
A significant allocation of public resources has been made to infrastructure that is created both to improve resiliency and to increase the competitiveness of the region. Since protective infrastructure can serve multiple functions, it can be of great economic and ecological value if it is designed in a way that contributes to the creation of new development opportunities, doubles up to accommodate other infrastructure uses, improves the quality of the public realm and waterfront experience, and enhances natural systems.

No. 9

Explore the potential of soft storms.
A multifunctional approach to infrastructure can occur through soft (use of natural and landscape systems) and hard infrastructure design. As the region begins to carefully consider its infrastructure network as a tool for resiliency and recovery, it is well positioned to be on the forefront of integrating more soft infrastructure into the overall system. Incorporating soft infrastructure can be a costeffective way to build systems that protect the region's 520 miles of coastline.

No. 10

Allow for safe failure of some non-critical infrastructure systems.
Certain elements of the region's infrastructure, although important, can be allowed to fail. Short-term interruptions of these systems can be permitted and planned for to allow more investment and support for life and safety critical systems.

No. 11

Create infrastructure recovery plans for quick partial service restoration.
Priorities for restoration should be set by stakeholders, and the infrastructure system should be, to the extent possible, designed to accommodate those priorities quickly in the wake of a disaster. This objective could be approached through stages of restoration that focus on bringing power back to high-priority infrastructure first.

No. 12

Encourage individual preparedness during short-term infrastructure outages.
Those in areas at risk for power outage, transportation limitation, or property damage should be ready for a wide range of system disruptions in the case of a disaster. The public should not presume that infrastructure systems will operate perfectly post-disaster. To prepare, citizens will require reliable, frequent, and timely distribution of information from the public sector. Historically, social networks and community-based organizations (CBOs) have been the most successful providers of immediate relief after a disaster and are often a secondary source of ongoing relief. For relief to be possible, these organizations need to be prepared with goods to support the needs during power outages and other interruptions.

No. 13

Implement creative extra-municipal financing mechanisms.
Because of the magnitude of capital requirements and the frequently multijurisdictional scope of many infrastructure improvements, these projects can only be undertaken by federal or state agencies in cooperation with local municipalities or through a regional authority empowered to raise capital. At the present time, there is a gap in funding sources for resiliency infrastructure projects. Thus, it is incumbent upon states to coordinate and create their own resiliency funding authorities.

No. 14

Revise federal funding assistance to allow local discretion and direct funding flows to communities when possible.
Storm recovery money from the federal government comes with designated specific uses that limit the flexibility of towns and cities in spending to improve multiple infrastructures simultaneously. Frequently, federal assistance funds singular, single-use projects. There are too many nondiscretionary resources and too few human resources to integrate them effectively in this manner. If federal assistance were more flexible, infrastructure investments would be more powerful and would more effectively serve the communities in which they are made.

No. 15

Provide small communities with financial support to replace lost local tax dollars.
Consideration should be given to a state disaster and financing mechanism to offset the loss of property taxes in communities that restrict redevelopment of sites where properties have been destroyed and instead to allow communities to dedicate the land to public purposes, such as natural infrastructure. As part of this proposed program, any turnover of land whose cost is offset in this way should be deeded for public use in perpetuity.




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