RETURNING TO NATURE - FLOOD BUYOUTS AND MANAGED RETREAT IN NEW YORK STATE
Many scientists and policymakers believe that large-scale residential relocation is necessary to adapt to the complex challenges of flooding and shoreline erosion. Most cities are still at the nascent stages of planning for managed retreat - the strategic relocation of structures or abandonment of land to manage natural hazard risk. Flood buyouts create many opportunities and challenges for flood victims, who often possess an intense desire to rebuild by “building back better.” The disaster recovery literature has revealed that relocation practices can exacerbate socioeconomic disparities, and public officials fear the consequences of dissolving communities, losing tax revenue, and managing services for the residents left behind. If effective climate adaptation involves the acquisition of inhabited lands, then how can planners and policymakers fairly return developed communities back to nature? Through qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews and analysis of plans, policies, and spatial data, this dissertation evaluates state-level involvement in local administration of the flood buyout process through the case of the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program (NYRCR), a recovery planning process following coastal storms Irene, Lee, and Sandy. The three analysis chapters examine the emergence of the NYRCR program, analyze how state involvement enabled local governments to better address the social and ecological recovery gaps of federal buyout programs, and evaluate the institutionalization of relocation as adaptation in the Village of Sidney and Town of Union. State-level support proved crucial in helping local governments update or complete local recovery and mitigation plans and led to more meaningful local engagement with the procedural equity concerns of buyouts. Local administrators, however, needed to operate as public entrepreneurs to provide low and middle-income residents with access to affordable housing. State interventions did not produce housing opportunities for most buyout recipients or remedy barriers to ecological restoration. Nevertheless, local officials were empowered to more equitably manage disaster recovery funds that often produce exclusionary outcomes. When supported well by state government, local level actors can gradually piece together a more resilient community in the absence of federal action to address climate change and economic inequality.
Climate Adaptation; Disaster Recovery; Flood Buyouts; Flood Mitigation; Managed Retreat; Policy Entrepreneurship
Warner, Mildred E.
Schmidt, Stephan J.; Schneider, Rebecca L.
City and Regional Planning
Ph. D., City and Regional Planning
Doctor of Philosophy
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International