Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Planning on meta scales

1. Wildfire prevention.  The State of California has mandated that cities/counties include mitigation of the potential for wildfire events in their general/master plans.

The City of San Diego is working through compliance with that mandate currently ("San Diego adding wildfire prevention policies to development blueprint," San Diego Union-Tribune).

2.  Metropolitan hazard mitigation planning.  The article mentions that the County of San Diego has a Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. That seems like a noteworthy effort that other metropolitan areas, through the auspices of their respective council of governments, ought to take up.

3. Mitigation of the potential for wildfires in terms of watershed protection.  Flagstaff, Arizona is one of a few jurisdictions to look at management of the potential for wildfires as an element of watershed and water quality management. In 2012, they passed a bond issue to pay for mitigation. It was particularly noteworthy because much of the watershed lies outside of the city borders.

Santa Fe does this too ("Got water? Thank (and save) a forest," Santa Fe New Mexican).

-- Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project: Home

But 8 years later, $10 million turns out to not be enough, even though other property owners are matching this with funds of their own ("Flagstaff watershed protection reason to celebrate," Arizona Daily Sun).

And complications working with other public landowners, especially the US Forest Service, add cost and time to the execution of the plan as well. Plus just because they thin the forests doesn't always mean there's a profitable market for the lumber or sawmills to process it.

Note that large scale water authorities like the Baltimore City DPW, which serves the area counties also, do a similar kind of management of reservoir lands that they own, although out this way, they don't have to worry too much about wildfire.

And EPA has a Community-Based Water Resiliency Initiative, although who knows the status of this program under the current administration.

Chris Rodriguez, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, points to real-time traffic updates and other data being broadcast at the agency’s command center ahead of the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018. (Photo: Caitlin Dickson/Yahoo News)

4. Emergency management behind protests.  There was an interesting Yahoo News article ("How DC protects rallies like the March for Our Lives") on the emergency management behind the March of Our Lives protest in DC.

5.  Houston: hurricanes, wetlands, and development.  We know, post-Hurricane Harvey, that Houston has done a poor job of restricting development in areas that are likely to flood in the case of extreme weather events ("How Houston's unregulated growth contributed to Harvey's flooding," Washington Post).  Although to be fair, no system is designed, so far, to withstand getting 50 inches of rain in one week.

Tulsa offers a different path.  The city frequently experienced floods on the Tulsa River, many of which resulted in death and property damage. In 1984, after flooding which resulted in 14 deaths, the city created a Department of Stormwater Management and developed a Citywide Flood and Stormwater Management Plan, which provides for specific improvements across the city.

The primary focus of the plan is removing buildings from the flood plain and converting these spaces to greenways and parks as a way to absorb flooding while minimizing damage.  The plan has been frequently updated--another iteration is underway--and since 1990, no structure built before 1987 has been damaged by flooding.

-- From Roof Top to River: Tulsa's Approach to Floodplain and Stormwater Management

For building regulation, after Hurricane Andrew Florida toughened building regulations to deal better with the potential of hurricanes and high winds ("25 years later: How Florida buildings are better able to withstand Category 5 storms," ABC-TV) although South Florida needs to study the Hurricane Harvey incident and learn from it in terms of preparing for flooding ("What if Hurricane Harvey-type flooding hit South Florida?," Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel).

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