Problems of containment and the promise of planning

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Publication Type Book Chapter
School or College College of Architecture & Planning
Department Architecture
Creator Sanchez, Thomas W.; Nelson, Arthur C.
Other Author Burby, Raymond J.
Title Problems of containment and the promise of planning
Date 2006
Description When the expansion of cities is constrained either by natural barriers, such as New Orleans, or by policy efforts to limit urban sprawl, development pressures in hazardous areas can markedly increase. As floodplains, steep slopes, earthquake fault zones, and other hazardous locations are converted to urban uses, the locality's vulnerability to hazard events increases as does the potential for serious losses of lives and property in natural disasters. The devastation of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina is an extreme example of the phenomenon. But this threat can be neutralized if hazards are recognized in advance of exposure and appropriate counter-measures are adopted. The difficulty is that in the absence of state planning and hazard mitigation requirements, many localities ignore hazards in planning for and regulating urban development, as shown most recently by Steinberg and Burby (2002). New Orleans and Miami, Florida, provide excellent examples to evaluate the effects of adequate planning and preparation for cities in hazardous areas. New Orleans provides an example of what can occur in a city with severe constraints on buildable land and a lack of adequate public concern for hazards or urban development planning. In contrast, decisions made by policy makers in the State of Florida and by the Miami-Dade County Government illustrate how concern for hazard avoidance and resource protection can lead to policies that sharply limit development in flood-prone areas. To see if lessons revealed by these two cases could be replicated nationwide, we examine natural disasters and associated property damages in samples of metropolitan counties with varying degrees of containment brought about by policy decisions or natural conditions and with varying degrees of planning. And our findings are extremely telling. Metropolitan counties with either natural or policy containment experienced higher property losses in disasters when states left planning and development decisions wholly to local government discretion. Where states intervened and demanded that localities plan and manage development with hazard mitigation in mind, property losses are strikingly lower.
Type Text
Publisher University of Pennsylvania Press
Subject Disaster mitigation; Land use; Floodplains
Subject LCSH Floodplain management; Hurricanes
Language eng
Bibliographic Citation Burby, R. J., Nelson, A. C. & Sanchez, T. W. (2006). The problems of containment and the promise of planning, in Birch, E. & Wachter, S., eds. Rebuilding urban places after disaster: lessons from Hurricane Katrina.
Rights Management (c)University of Pennsylvania Press. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of scholarly citation, none of this work may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. For information address the University of Pennsylvania Press, 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112.
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