Taming the “Super-Wicked” Problem of Waterfront Hazard Mitigation Planning

I recently had the opportunity to publish a chapter in the new book, CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN CLIMATE CHANGE LAW AND POLICY: ESSAYS INSPIRED BY THE IPCC (2016), published by ELI Press. The chapter, entitled “Taming the Super-Wicked Problem of Waterfront Hazard Mitigation Planning: The Role of Municipal Communication Strategies” is available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2792227.

Here’s the abstract:

In the Adaptation Report of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifies floods in urban riverine and coastal areas as among the key climate-related risks for North America. Not surprisingly for residents of coastal and riverine communities devastated by recent extreme weather events, the Adaptation Report acknowledges that risks related to sea-level rise, increased frequency and duration of extreme precipitation events, and increasingly intense coastal storms are not only future risks, but are current risks that are already manifesting in property and infrastructure damage, ecosystem and social system disruption, public health impacts, and water quality impairment. The Adaptation Report identifies the current risk level for North American coastal cities as “medium” and projects that, with a 2° Centigrade (C) increase in global average temperatures over pre-industrial levels, coastal urban areas will have to implement “high adaptation” just to maintain the current risk level of medium. With a 4°C increase, even high adaptation is projected to have little efficacy — indeed, the IPCC reports that under a 4°C pathway North American coastal cities will face high risk levels even if they implement high adaptation. Given that staying within a 2°C pathway appears unlikely, policymakers should heed the IPCC’s projections by implementing waterfront development policies consistent with increasingly severe flood risks in both current and expanded flood zones.

Notwithstanding the magnitude of present and future risks to coastal and riverine communities, however, waterfront development policies have shifted only incrementally. The result has been the continued siting of residential communities and critical infrastructure in vulnerable waterfront areas and the expansion and entrenchment of policies, behaviors, and preferences that, at best, fail to mitigate risk and, at worst, heighten risk. Even communities that have otherwise undertaken robust climate change mitigation and adaptation planning continue to base waterfront development policies on irrationally discounted risk projections and embrace communication strategies that obfuscate the risk and ultimately undermine the communities’ ability to adequately respond to the risks. The literature on “wicked” and “super-wicked” policy problems suggests that, in the current context of heightened risk aversion following a major disaster like Hurricanes Sandy or Katrina, municipal governments in the affected areas have an opportunity to transform waterfront development policies consistent with scientific evidence on climate related risks. Shifting waterfront development policies toward resilience likely begins with official communications that accurately portray risk, including waterfront and hazard mitigation plans, flood risk maps, and comprehensive planning processes, which can facilitate changes in zoning and building codes and private market behavior consistent with near- and long-term risks.

Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Taming the Super-Wicked Problem of Waterfront Hazard Mitigation Planning: The Role of Municipal Communication Strategies, in CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN CLIMATE CHANGE LAW AND POLICY: ESSAYS INSPIRED BY THE IPCC 123, 123-141 (2016).

Land Use Ethics

I’m always on the lookout for great articles on land use law and ethics, and, in that vein, wanted to draw your attention to a recent article by Touro Law Dean Patricia Salkin and Darren Stakey entitled “Further Developments in Land Use Ethics.” 47 Urb. Law. 739 (Fall 2015); available on Lexis and Westlaw, and at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2780534. Here’s the abstract:

“Ethical considerations continue to play a fundamental role in shaping the course of land use and developmental regulatory proceedings throughout the country. From an innocuous donation by one public official to his alma mater, to the outright bribery of a former mayor, the past year has been rife with a range of conduct implicating professional responsibility and land use.”

Save the Date for the 2016 East End Planning Conference

I received the following announcement from APA Long Island about the upcoming East End Planning Conference:

When:  September 29, 2016

Where:  Hotel Indigo East End, 1830 West Main Street, Riverhead, NY  11901

Downtown Riverhead Mobile Workshop:  1:30pm – 3:00pm

Conference:  3:00pm – 7:30pm

Stayed tuned for more information, sponsorship opportunities and online registration! 

save-the-date-draft.jpg

CDP at the Urban Justice Center (NYC) seeking a Land Use & Neighborhood Change Staff Attorney

I received the following job announcement from the  Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center. Looks like a great opportunity!

The Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center seeks a Staff Attorney to provide legal support to grassroots groups on matters related to neighborhood change and development. We believe that legal services focused on land use are a critical way to support responsible, equitable development and to combat gentrification and displacement. CDP’s work in this area has included advocacy around neighborhood rezonings, negotiation of community benefits agreements, participation in citywide coalitions that support equitable development, and litigation challenging proposed developments. The position reports to the Supervising Attorney for CDP’s Capacity Building Practice. Depending on organizational needs and the candidate’s interests and experience, this position may offer opportunities to also work on transactional matters, such as nonprofit and worker cooperative development and support.

Primary Responsibilities include:

  • Support local coalitions and grassroots groups in neighborhoods facing rezonings by conducting trainings, supporting the formation of coalitions, researching best practices in equitable development, reviewing and crafting responses to the City’s proposed rezoning plans, and supporting local groups in developing and advocating for policies to better meet community needs.
  • Negotiate and draft legally binding Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) with private developers to ensure that community members obtain concrete benefits from development projects.
  • Advocate to legislative bodies and agencies in partnership with CDP’s clients regarding issues related to equitable neighborhood change and development.
  • Participate in coalitions to support policies that promote equitable development.
  • Develop and pursue litigation to protect community members’ interests in the face of rezoning and development initiatives.
  • Develop new strategies and partnerships to advance equitable neighborhood change.
  • Support CDP on other substantive and administrative projects.
  • Comply with all grant reporting requirements and supporting CDP’s development department to ensure ongoing funding for the work.

Qualifications/Skills:

Required:

  • Admission to the New York State Bar, able to be admitted on motion, or pending admission.
  • Demonstrated commitment to grassroots efforts for economic, racial and social justice.
  • Excellent organizational and interpersonal/communication skills.
  • Strong writing and analytical skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with diverse populations.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively.

Strongly Preferred:

  • At least 1-2 years post-law school experience in civil legal services or comparable work.
  • Familiarity with land use, property, local government, zoning, and/or NYC housing law.
  • Experience with urban planning, policy development, and/or legislative advocacy.
  • Litigation experience.
  • Fluency in Spanish.
  • Experience working with social justice and/or community organizing groups.

Background:

The Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center strengthens the impact of grassroots organizations in New York City’s low-income and other excluded communities. We partner with community organizations to win legal cases, publish community-driven research reports, assist with the formation of new organizations and cooperatives, and provide technical and transactional assistance in support of their work towards social justice. CDP’s current practice areas are Affordable Housing, Consumer Justice, Research & Policy, Worker’s Rights, and Capacity Building. cdp.urbanjustice.org

The Community Development Project is an equal opportunity employer. CDP encourages applications from people with diverse backgrounds, including women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, people from low income backgrounds, and people with personal experience with the criminal justice system. We strongly encourage applications from people with lived experiences in the communities we serve.

Salary and compensation: A competitive salary and excellent benefits package is available, with generous vacation, personal, and sick time, along with industry leading medical and dental coverage. CDP’s staff attorneys are on a fixed salary scale, and the salary for this position will be determined based on years of relevant experience in accordance with the scale. This is a bargaining unit position represented for collective bargaining purposes by the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW, Local 2320. The Urban Justice Center’s union has been formally recognized and is in the process of negotiating its first union contract.

Application Instructions:

Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter by e-mail to cdpjobs@urbanjustice.org, attn: Gowri Krishna. Please include “Land Use Staff Attorney” in the subject line. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis and must be received by August 15, 2016.

Fellowship in Coastal Resilience Law

Touro Law Center’s Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute is currently seeking a Graduate Research Fellow to work on an exciting project funded by the New York Sea Grant involving local law and coastal resilience. If you know of outstanding recent law graduates who want to work in sustainable development, land use and/or local environmental law, please let them know about this opportunity. A job description is below. Questions about the position or application procedures can be addressed to Professor Sarah Adams-Schoen at sadams-schoen@tourolaw.edu.

Graduate Research Fellow
Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute

Touro Law Center’s Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute is seeking a Graduate Research Fellow to take a key role on an innovativeZoning for Coastal Resilience project funded by the New York Sea Grant. The Institute is undertaking this project in coordination with a number of government and community partners, including the New York State Department of State and Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Pace University’s Land Use Law Center, amongst others.

Threats from sea-level rise and coastal storms create significant social, environmental and economic risks. To help address these threats, the Zoning for Coastal Resilience project will provide to three Long Island, New York communities practical tools and critical information that will assist in increasing coastal resilience, including assisting local leaders in undertaking a detailed assessment of local laws, identifying land use techniques to increase resilience, and helping to develop implementable local strategies that will enable a more resilient future for the region.

To achieve these objectives, the project team will work collaboratively with community leaders and project technical experts to assist community leaders in assessing and amending their zoning codes and other related local laws to increase coastal community resilience. The project team will not recommend any particular policies or strategies, nor will they promote a particular point of view. Instead, the project team will provide support to local government officials, staff and community leaders to empower them in assessing and amending local laws to increase coastal resilience. This collaborative support may include, for example, legal research and analysis of issues related to amending zoning codes and other community planning documents to increase resilience, surveys of existing best practices, facilitation of workshops with technical experts, and assistance in drafting and assessing potential local law amendments.

The Position: The Institute is seeking a Graduate Research Fellow to staff the Zoning for Coastal Resilience project. The Fellow will work directly with the Institute Director, Professor Sarah Adams-Schoen, and the Institute’s law student Fellows. The Graduate Research Fellow will network with local, county, state and federal government and private sector partners; undertake research and analysis related to coastal resilience and local law; and help create practical tools that will directly assist coastal communities in increasing their resilience by developing land use leadership capacity and providing technical assistance on assessing and amending local laws. The project represents an excellent opportunity to work on legal issues of critical importance to Long Island, New York and the nation.

The Graduate Research Fellowship begins in July or August 2016 and continues until February 28, 2017, with the possibility of renewal for a second term from March 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018, depending on interest and performance. The Institute Director, Sarah Adams-Schoen, supervises the Graduate Research Fellow, but the Fellow is expected to assume substantial responsibility for his or her own work and to assist the Director in supervision of law student research fellows and research assistants. The Graduate Research Fellow will work closely with the Institute Director, students and administrative staff of Touro Law Center, as well as with NYSG project partners including local, county, state and federal government staff.

Qualifications: The Graduate Research Fellowship is offered to graduating law students or recent law school graduates with outstanding academic and legal credentials who are committed to sustainability. Strong candidates will have excellent legal research, writing and analytical skills. Experience in land use and zoning or local environmental law is preferred, but not required. Fellows need not be licensed to practice law.
Salary: The salary for the first-year Graduate Research Fellow is $4,583 per month, plus benefits. A cost-of-living increase is possible for second year Fellows. Fellows work 35 hours per week.

Application Procedure:  Applicants should send a cover letter of no more than 1 page, a resume, a writing sample of no more than 5 pages, and 3 references to Sarah J. Adams-Schoen, Director, Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute, Touro Law Center, 225 Eastview Dr., Central Islip, NY 11722, or by e-mail to sadams-schoen@tourolaw.edu with NYSG Graduate Research Fellow in the subject line. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until a candidate is hired.

Interested applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

 

2016 East End Planning Conference – SAVE THE DATE

Save the Date DRAFT

When:  September 29, 2016

Where:  Hotel Indigo East End, 1830 West Main Street, Riverhead, NY  11901

Downtown Riverhead Mobile Workshop:  1:30pm – 3:00pm

Conference:  3:00pm – 7:30pm

Stayed tuned for more information, sponsorship opportunities and online registration! 

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