Yesterday I attended a talk at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) where Dan Zarrilli, Director of Resilience for NYC was the keynote speaker. The AIA is where I first got interested in climate resilience back in September 2012. Lance Brown and Illya Azaroff, co-chairs of the AIA Design for Risk and Reconstruction (DfRR) coordinated the discussion after the keynote presentation.
The talk was very serious in that it took a look at where the City has gone since the issuance of the Mayor’s June 2013 climate resiliency report. What I came out with from the talk was that the Biggert-Waters 2012 act for revising flood insurance premiums is very dangerous for certain sections of the City, like the Rockaways and Broad Channel (as well as the southern section of Long Island, like Long Beach). The situation is dangerous because some 160,000 people in affected areas could see the value of their residences literally disappear overnight.
The City seems to be pursuing a strategy to try to slow the rise of premiums in these areas so the residents in affected areas can cope with the economic viability for their residences and communities.
Klaus Jacob of Columbia University had an interesting idea that came from the talk — he suggested that since only residences that have mortgages are required to have flood insurance, then the City should purchase all mortgages in an affected area (say Broad Channel) to help control the destiny of a particular area. The concept of a sale-leaseback for those residents to protect their “life estate” in the residence was discussed in terms of Klaus’s idea.
The main point of this discussion was it showed that if we let market forces solely determine the future of a weak climate resilience area then residents may be severely impacted and that an entire area of the City may have to undergo substantial dislocation.
The Mayor’s plan has an end date of 2050 which is basically two generations from now: Some of the areas discussed really have a three or four generation transition plan which takes us to the year 2100. It would seem to me that by the year 2100, areas like the Rockaways, Broad Channel and the southern portion of Long Island, will have little or no residents at all and will revert to nature in the form of waterfront park land that is sometimes underwater.
The concept of Mont-St-Michel of France comes to mind in that structure(s) might be able to be produced that can weather the future conditions of these areas. Pun intended…