March 7th, 2014 by New Jersey Future staff
The National Resources Defense Council was one of the co-signers to our official comments on the state’s draft Action Plan for the second round of federal Sandy recovery aid. In this article, cross-posted from their site, author Ben Chou explains why a robust risk assessment is so important to judicious allocation of these funds.
Extreme weather events in recent years have made states throughout the country rethink how investments in communities can make them more resilient to future storms and other types of natural disasters. There is no clearer example of this than in New York and New Jersey, the two states most devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Although it has been well over a year since this disaster struck, communities in both states are still in the process of recovering and rebuilding. And the roughly $60 billion in federal disaster relief appropriated after Sandy has been instrumental in this effort.
As a condition of receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), New York and New Jersey are required to develop an action plan for how they plan to use these funds. They are also required to formally amend the plan every time they propose a major change. My colleague, Theo Spencer, provided testimony this week on New York’s plan for using HUD funding. And this week we also signed on to a letter from New Jersey Future, which includes recommendations for how New Jersey should utilize its next round of HUD funding.
Advocates Call for Valid Risk Assessment, Mitigation Planning in State’s Draft Post-Sandy Action Plan
March 5th, 2014 by Chris Sturm
Rebuilding Without Forward-Focused Analysis Wastes Taxpayer Funds
New Jersey Future today joined groups of planning and policy organizations in submitting two sets of comments in response to New Jersey’s Draft Sandy Recovery Action Plan, which, if approved, will govern the disbursement of the next $1.46 billion in federal Sandy recovery funds.
The first set of comments addresses two issues: 1) the need for municipalities to conduct robust risk assessments to identify vulnerable areas and assets, and 2) the imperative for a larger investment of funds in planning to provide affected municipalities with the capacity to develop long-term recovery plans that do as much as possible to keep residents and property safe from future storms. Read the rest of this entry »
February 25th, 2014 by Steve Nelson
What do we do about our coastal communities that lie in harm’s way (on an increasingly frequent basis) if our present approach isn’t sustainable? That is the essential question asked by the new documentary film Shored Up, screened in New Brunswick on Feb. 24, as it examines the situation along the Jersey Shore and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Interviewing scientists, elected officials, residents, environmentalists and others, filmmaker Ben Kalina explores the conundrum that we face as sea levels rise even as along our coast homes and businesses are being rebuilt and new ones are being constructed. Read the rest of this entry »
February 20th, 2014 by Chris Sturm
New Jersey Municipalities Have Access to Far Fewer Resources
The State of New York recently released its sixth Sandy Action Plan Amendment that describes how it will spend the nearly $2.1 billion second round of federal CDBG-DR funding. In earlier amendments, the state dedicated $32 million to allow 124 communities affected by Sandy and other recent hurricanes to engage in comprehensive planning for a more resilient future through the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. The communities received technical assistance tools, including maps showing areas that would become vulnerable to storm damage through the coming century as sea level rises, as well as professional planning consultant services and a planning framework within which to develop reconstruction plans. New York’s most recent Action Plan Amendment dedicates over $650 million for implementation of resiliency projects in the reconstruction plans. Read the rest of this entry »
February 18th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham
A new report released by New Jersey Future identifies a significant mismatch in New Jersey between where large numbers of older residents live and which municipalities are most prepared, from a land-use perspective, to accommodate them. Read the rest of this entry »
February 14th, 2014 by Peter Kasabach
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a city of 171,000 people. If it were in New Jersey, it would be the third largest city behind Newark and Jersey City. Fort Lauderdale, as well as other cities and towns in Florida, has had to deal with the reality of rising sea levels sooner than those of us in New Jersey. What they are finding is that it is enormously expensive to try and stay one step ahead of Mother Nature. Fort Lauderdale’s latest efforts will cost upwards of $1 billion, or about $6,000 for every resident (not taxpayer) living there.
In densely populated areas, this might make sense in order to maintain cities for another generation or two. But does this kind of investment make sense in less densely populated communities that may require the same level of protection at similar costs? It’s time that we pay attention to the science of sea level rise, assess communities’ vulnerabilities accurately and make smart future-oriented decisions about infrastructure investments and land-use decisions.
If climate change continues to be ignored and sea levels rise according to even the most conservative trends and predictions, the cost to keep the ocean out will be exponentially higher than what Fort Lauderdale is facing today, and at some point it may no longer be technically feasible.
February 12th, 2014 by Chris Sturm
Below is New Jersey Future Senior Director of State Policy Chris Sturm’s prepared testimony for the Feb. 13 public hearing on the state’s draft Sandy Recovery Action Plan Amendment, covering the next $1.46 billion in federal Sandy relief funds.
My testimony today addresses three key aspects of the proposed New Jersey Sandy Action Plan Amendment: Does it go far enough in protecting infrastructure from future hazards? Does it give municipalities the support they need to plan for a safer future? And does it ensure the state will be transparent with its citizens about how it uses these funds? Read the rest of this entry »
February 10th, 2014 by Tim Evans
The End of Sprawl?
Did the 2008 recession really rewrite the development playbook? Are demographics really destiny (pdf)? Commentators of many stripes have recently been declaring that the age of suburbanization is at an end, and that the future of land development is going to look a lot like the past, with people returning in droves to in-town living. Now, some of their prognostications are actually starting to show up in data. Our two-part series takes a look at some of the sorts of data patterns that one would expect to see if we really were standing at the threshold of a new era of redevelopment. Part II of a two-part series. Read Part I here.
In part 1 of this series, we looked at population growth at both the county and municipal level from 2008 to 2012 and noted that it was happening in a very different group of places from what had been the case between 2000 and 2008 (and in earlier decades). Older, already-developed towns and counties were much more likely to be growing over the past four years than they had for many years, or even decades, prior. Meanwhile, the fast-growing suburban counties of the 1990s and early 2000s were no longer dominating the growth list, and in fact some of them have even reversed course and lost population since 2008. Read the rest of this entry »
February 7th, 2014 by Steve Nelson
Rebuild by Design, an initiative of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is aimed at addressing structural and environmental vulnerabilities that Hurricane Sandy exposed in communities throughout the region, and at developing implementable solutions to protect residents more effectively from future climate events.
Sasaki Associates, leading one of the 10 Rebuild By Design teams, conducted a public workshop for the inland Raritan Bay area in Keansburg on Jan. 30 to gather more public input on how to rebuild Sandy-devastated areas in smarter, more resilient ways. Enthusiastic participants offered their perspectives on three topics: water, recreation/open space and community. Attendees offered the Sasaki team members suggestions on how to create more open space, what flood mitigation strategies they preferred, opinions on the various communities that are present in the area, and ideas on how their region should be rebuilt. Read the rest of this entry »
February 6th, 2014 by Elaine Clisham
Updated with rescheduled date for third public hearing.
The Christie administration has scheduled three public hearings to allow citizens and interested stakeholders an opportunity to comment on its proposed plan for disbursement of $1.46 billion in federal Sandy recovery funds. Read the rest of this entry »