1. Infrastructure & Development

Participants noted several opportunities to increase community resilience to climate change. Resilient practices related to infrastructure and development include integrating climate change into the design and building of new housing and housing developments and retrofitting existing buildings, investing in community revitalization and stabilization, and incorporating climate change and equity concerns in community land-use planning. Climate- and equity-informed development includes incentivizing practices such as conducting vulnerability assessments of potential development locations, building in areas less likely to be impacted by climate change, creating mixed housing developments (e.g., mixed incomes, mixed businesses, mixed building types), promoting community land ownership (e.g., community land trusts, nonprofit-owned rentals, resident-owned cooperatives), and co-locating affordable housing with green space.

    “In all new construction, evaluate the site for potential negative impacts from climate change, and provide incentives to live and build in less at-risk areas.”

    “Encourage or require developers to include mixed housing in every new development so that there is no single area that can be effectively targeted for displacement.”

    “Creating land trusts within communities to preserve green spaces and allow them to buffer for climate change impacts.”

    “Break the narrative that displacement and gentrification of urban centers is a sad but necessary part of making our cities more compact and climate ready. Build anti-displacement strategies into all planning and infrastructure funding for climate resilience. Like you can't build your seawall with X money unless you utilize one or more of Y strategies to help support community stability. And you can't do your community resilience plan with Z money unless you explicitly consider displacement threats, and how you will counter them.”

     

    Case Study Examples

    • The City of Hoboken, New Jersey, is creating joint green space-housing developments in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. The 7th and Jackson Stormwater Project and Resiliency Park recently broke ground on the construction of a $20-million mixed-use residential building with ~10% affordable housing units along with a two-acre park that is capable of retaining over 450,000 gallons of stormwater to reduce flooding.5
       
    • Norfolk, Virginia, recently enacted new zoning regulations to require all new development to meet a “resilience quotient” wherein all proposed infrastructure is evaluated on climate resilience criteria—for example, reducing flood risks, supporting mobility options, and energy efficiency.6 All new buildings and existing structures that have experienced two major flood events are now required to comply with a 3-foot freeboard standard; the former standard was 1- foot.
       
    • Earth Economics, in partnership with the Community Justice Project, conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Magic City Innovation District development in Little Haiti, Miami.7 The study found that the proposed development is likely to exacerbate existing economic and racial inequities in the neighborhood with the majority of residents comprising low-income families of color, and reduce the area’s overall resilience to climate change. For example, the study links land-use changes such as conversion of green space to pavements, increased building heights, and increased road congestion to degraded ecosystem services (e.g., decreased air and water quality), increased urban heat island effects, and increased air pollution, while rising property values and rents will lead to displacement of long-term residents.
       
    • The Los Angeles Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing (LA ROSAH) initiative aims to advance parks and affordable housing joint developments to show that community health and resilience can be improved through urban greening without causing displacement. As part of LA ROSAH’s ongoing work, they invite housing developers to pitch projects that integrate parks or open space on planned affordable housing developments.