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March 17-19, March 17-19, 2011 New Orleans, LA PowerPoint Presentation
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March 17-19, March 17-19, 2011 New Orleans, LA

March 17-19, March 17-19, 2011 New Orleans, LA

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March 17-19, March 17-19, 2011 New Orleans, LA

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  1. BUILDING RESILIENCE WORKSHOP II • March 17-19, March 17-19, 2011 • New Orleans, LA • Edward A. Thomas, Esq. 617-515-3849

  2. Good Day! • I appear today representing: The Natural Hazard Mitigation Association This is not and cannot be legal advice This is a statement of general principles of ethics, law and policy

  3. The Choice of Development or No Development is a False Choice! The Choice We Have as a Society is Rather Between: 1. Well planned development that protects people and property, our environment, and our precious Water Resources while reducing the potential for litigation; or 2. Some current practices that are known to harm people, property, and natural floodplain functions- … and may lead to litigation and other challenges

  4. Key Themes • We Need To Think Broadly To Solve Our Serious Problems • We Must Stop Making Things Worse • Right Now We Have A System Which Rewards Dangerous Behavior • We Need To Remove Bad Incentives, Reward Good Planning, Safe Building, and Safe Reconstruction The Concepts Which This Workshop Is Considering Are Very Much a Step in The Right Direction

  5. To Set the Stage For Our Discussion • Lets discuss some basics of Law • In the Law-especially criminal law- Attorneys often seek to identify someone else to take the blame • For increased flood damages that “Someone Else” is often… 5

  6. Mother Nature 6

  7. Does Nature Cause Disasters? • Dr. Gilbert White, the late, great, founder of the internationally recognized Natural Hazards Center, headquartered in Colorado, stated the facts: “Floods are Acts of Nature; But Flood Losses Are Largely Acts of Man” 7

  8. I Hope All of You Will Agree • Among the Most Clear Lessons of The Horrific Floods of this Decade: • There Is No Possibility of A Sustainable Economy Without Safe Locations for Business and Industry to Occupy • We Need Safe Housing for Employees to Work at Businesses and Industry – to Have an Economy at All 8

  9. USACE Slide courtesy of Pete Rabbon

  10. All Shareholders Can Also Contribute to Increased Risk! Residual Risk Can Be Increased Initial Risk No Warning/Evacuation Plan- or A Poorly Developed and Exercised Plan Upstream Development or Wildfires Increases Flows Lack of Awareness of Flood Hazard-Lack of Flood, Business Interruption, DIC Insurance Critical Facilities Not Protected From Flooding Increased and more Costly Development RISK Levees Not Properly Designed/Maintained Vastly Increased Residual Risk RISK Increase Factors

  11. Even If We Perfectly Implement Current National Minimum Standards, Damages Will Continue or Increase. Central Message • Remember, we have done a number of positive things, both non-structural and structural, but… • We’ll discuss why that is… 11

  12. But There Is Hope! • New and exciting APA and ABA awareness and initiatives • Improved FEMA Flood Mapping Program-Risk MAP • The formation of the National Hazard Mitigation Collaborative Alliance • Formation of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association • USACE Silver Jackets Program • The higher standards being considered by this Board and other communities and states.

  13. With Improper Development Flood Heights May Increase Dramatically More Than One Foot • No Adverse Impact: A New Direction in Floodplain Management Policy By Larry Larson PE, CFM and Doug Plasencia PE, CFM • Published in Natural Hazards Review November 2001, IAAN 1527-6988 • Depending on the Watershed, Improper Development Might Cause a 3-5 or more Foot Increase in flood Heights 13

  14. Safe Development Is Affordable • The American Institutes for Research has conducted a detailed study on the cost of floodproofing and elevation • That study supports the idea that elevation and floodproofing costs add very small sums and have a significant societal payback • The Multihazard Mitigation Council, a group which includes private industry representatives, reports that hazard mitigation has a proven 4-1 payback

  15. Deeper and Higher Water Results? Serious Public Safety Issues

  16. A Solution • Go Beyond NFIP Minimum Standards • No Adverse Impact-CRS Type: • Development decision-making • Planning • Emergency Preparedness 16

  17. No Adverse Impact Explained NAI is a concept/policy/strategy that broadens one's focus from the built environment to include how changes to the built environment potentially impact other properties. • NAI broadens property rights by protecting the property rights of those that would be adversely impacted by the actions of others. 17

  18. What Is The Result Of Implementing Higher Standards? • PROTECTION OF THE PROPERTY RIGHTS OF ALL • Legally Speaking, Prevention of Harm is Treated Quite Differently Than Making the Community a Better Place. • Prevention of Harm to the Public Is Accorded Enormous Deference by the Courts 18

  19. Higher Standards: • Are consistent with the concept of sustainable development • Provide a pragmatic method for regulation • Make sense on a local and regional basis • May be rewarded by FEMA’s Community Rating System, especially under the new CRS Manual • Can reduce the potential for litigation against a community 19

  20. No Adverse Impact Floodplain Management • New concept? • No, it is a modern statement of an Ancient Legal Maxim • “Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas” • Use your property so you do not harm others • Detailed Legal Papers by Jon Kusler and Ed Thomas available at: • More information in ASFPM’s A Toolkit on Common Sense Floodplain Management at: 20

  21. Why Are Some Governments Not Acting To Reduce Harmful Development? • NOAA Just Completed A Study Which Surveyed Planners As To Impediments To Safe Development. Two Major Reasons Cited: • Fear of the “Taking Issue” • Economic Pressure

  22. Reason #1 For Insufficient Standards:Economics and Externality • When One Group Pays Maintenance or Replacement of Something Yet Different Person or Group Uses That Same Something, We Often Have Problems • Disaster Assistance Is An Classic Example of Externality • Who Pays For Disaster Assistance? • Who Benefits?

  23. Who Pays For Disaster Assistance? • Costs of flooding are usually largely borne by: a) The Federal and Sometimes the State Taxpayer Through IRS Casualty Losses, SBA Loans, Disaster CDBG Funds, and the Whole Panoply of Federal and Private Disaster Relief Described in the Ed Thomas and Sarah Bowen Publication "Patchwork Quilt” (Located at: b) By Disaster Victims Themselves

  24. Cui Bono? (Who Benefits?)… • From Unwise or Improper Floodplain Development- a) Developers? b) Communities? c) State Government? d) Mortgage Companies? e) The Occupants of Floodplains? Possibly in the short-term, but definitely NOT in the long- term 25

  25. Why Should Government Do Something About This? • Fundamental Duty • Protect The Present • Preserve A Community’s Future 26

  26. Why Else Should Government Do Something About This? • In a Word: Liability 27

  27. Litigation for Claimed Harm Is Easier Now Than In Times Past • Forensic Hydrologists • Forensic Hydraulic Engineers 28

  28. The preferred alternative is… To have NO DAMAGE Due to Land Use and Hazard Mitigation Three Ways to Support Reconstruction Following Disaster Damage • Self Help: Loans, Savings, Charity, Neighbors • Insurance: Disaster Relief is a Combination of Social Insurance and Self Help • Litigation

  29. Situations Where Governments Have Been Held Liable • Construction of a Road Blocks Drainage • Stormwater System Increases Flows • Structure Blocks Watercourse • Bridge Without Adequate Opening • Grading Land Increases Runoff • Flood Control Structure Causes Damage • Filling Wetland Causes Damage • Issuing Permits for Development Which Causes Harm to a Third Party

  30. Reason #2 Why Safer Standards Are Not Implemented: Concerns About A “Taking” 31

  31. Increase in Cases Involving Land Use • There has been a huge increase in Taking Issue Cases, and related controversies involving development • Thousands of cases reviewed by Jon Kusler, me and others • Common thread? Courts have modified Common Law to require an Increased Standard of Care as the state of the art of Hazard Management has improved • Government is vastly more likely to be sued for undertaking activity, or permitting others to take action which causes harm than it is for strong, fair regulation 32

  32. Taking Lawsuit Results: • Regulations clearly based on Hazard Prevention and fairly applied to all: successfully held to be a Taking – almost none! • Many, many cases where communities and landowners held liable for harming others 33

  33. Can Government Adopt Higher Standards Than FEMA Minimums? • FEMA Regulations Encourage Adoption of Higher Standards-”… any floodplain management regulations adopted by a State or a community which are more restrictive than (the FEMA Regulations) are encouraged and shall take precedence.” 44CFR section 60.1(d). (emphasis added) 34

  34. A Conservative, Property Rights View • The Cato Institute Indicates that Compensation is Not Due When: “… regulation prohibits wrongful uses, no compensation is required.”

  35. Might All Communities Wish To Consider Even Higher Standards? Consider: A) Uncertainties in flood elevations-50% Confidence B) ASFPM No Adverse Impact Paper on flood height increases due to future watershed development C) Consequences if a factory, water treatment plant or other critical facility is flooded D) Consequences of a Levee overtopping E) 50% Chance That 1% Flood will be exceeded within 70 years according to Bulletin 17 B of the WRC F) Changes in flood heights and velocities due to factors such as upstream wildfires and mud slides/mudflow H) Climate Variability

  36. Hazard Based Regulation And The Constitution Hazard based regulation is generally sustained against Constitutional challenges Goal of protecting the public accorded ENORMOUS DEFERENCE by the Courts 38

  37. Summary • Higher Regulatory Standards Are: A) Legal B) Equitable C) Practical D) Defensible in Court E) Supported by good economic analysis F) The very basis of sustainability G) Rewarded under the Community Rating System

  38. Take Away Messages For Today Prevention • We Throw Money At Problems After They Occur • We Can Pay A Little Now; Or Society Pays Lots Later • The Legal System Is Ready To Help Society Pay Later 40

  39. Take Away Message • Community Leaders Have Responsibility for Public Safety and Need To Be Aware: • Many Areas Can Flood • Uninsured Victims Will Likely Sue- and will try to find someone to blame • Fair Harm Prevention Regulations Help Everyone 41

  40. Message For All Involved In Community Development • The Fundamental Rules of Development Articulated, By Law, Envision Housing and Development Which Is: • Decent • Safe • Sanitary • Affordable 42

  41. Flooded Development Fails That Vision! • Housing And Development Which Flood Are: • Indecent • Unsafe • Unsanitary • Unaffordable- by the Flood Victims, By Their Community, By The State, and By Our Nation. 43

  42. Questions and Answers