3. Policy

In order to enable widespread community resilience, policy changes are needed. For example, survey respondents note that stronger tenant protections such as just-cause eviction ordinances and rent control are needed to prevent systemic displacement and promote tenant and housing stability. Tax incentives were also mentioned as potentially useful to promoting climate-informed development and green infrastructure. Integrated decision-making processes and policy frameworks were also frequently mentioned. Requiring cross-sectoral planning and implementation between housing, transportation, parks, and utilities to consider inclusionary zoning, displacement pressures, and climate change may lead to more effective, equitable, and resilient developments. In addition, flexibility in land-use planning and policies are needed to accommodate the relocation of individuals and communities.

    “Allow more density in zoning codes to allow for more housing development.”

    “Integrated policy frameworks that require utility, municipal, and water/wastewater authorities to consider impacts of projects simultaneously and plan/collaborate/cost-share accordingly.”

    “Allow for local preference for displaced residents in climate resilient areas.”

    “There is a need for a county-wide mandate for anti-displacement that brings together different county agencies—housing, transportation, parks—to look at development with an anti-displacement lens and language to keep residents in place as healthy developments grow.”


    Case Studies Examples

    • Increasing storms are likely to overwhelm aging stormwater infrastructure in Ann Arbor, Michigan, resulting in more frequent combined sewer overflows. The city credits residents’ stormwater utility bills if green infrastructure (e.g., rain barrels, rain gardens) is installed to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the sewer system. This unique financing mechanism reduces local stormwater pollution and funds local capital improvements.12
    • Climate change is causing forced relocation of native coastal communities in Alaska (e.g., Native Alaska Villages of Kivalina,13Shishmaref,14 and Newtok 15) and Washington State (e.g., Hoh Tribe, Quileute Tribe). Increased flooding from storm surges and rising sea levels are pushing communities out of their traditional lands, degrading or destroying infrastructure, and disrupting cultural practices and ways of life. Several communities have identified potential relocation sites further inland or upland but have been halted by massive costs, local political disputes, and conflicting desires of community members. For example, the federal government does not recognize climate change as a qualifier for disaster relief funds. Congress approved a land transfer of 37 acres from the adjacent Olympic National Park to the Hoh Tribe; this property, along with another several hundred acres purchased by the tribe, creates a contiguous piece of usable land for the relocation of tribal housing and infrastructure to higher ground and out of a high-risk flood zone.
    • Palm Beach County, Florida, has experienced several major hurricanes over the last few decades and is vulnerable to flooding and erosion from storm surges and sea level rise. The county’s Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan notes the importance of creating and maintaining emergency shelters, temporary housing (including workforce housing for firefighters, police, service workers, etc.), and long-term affordable housing, especially for low-income residents, all while limiting redevelopment in vulnerable sites. The plan states: “[The county] developed a vision for its land use planning efforts years ago that has revolved around maintaining a diverse community that includes urban and rural communities and all levels of income households. To maintain that vision after a disaster will mean that affordable housing continues as a community priority both pre- and post-disaster.” Tactics to achieve this objective include identifying areas with the most vulnerable housing stock and making sure that temporary housing sites are located nearby, providing assistance in locating rental units for temporary housing (e.g., connecting displaced persons with information provided by landlords and rental agencies on undamaged available units), allowing local businesses to create temporary on-site employee housing through special permitting, and creating community land trusts to preserve existing and reestablish lost affordable housing.16
    • Anti-displacement avoidance policies have been integrated into the grant administration of Los Angeles’ Measure A, a parcel-tax for the development of parks. The Measure A Grant Administration Manual provides guidelines to avoid displacement and scoring criteria that evaluates applications based on multiple criteria, including potential displacement.17