In Buy-In for Buyouts: The Case for Managed Retreat from Flood Zones, authors
Managed retreat "allows residents to forge new beginnings on safer ground and helps create public amenities by acquiring homes in the flood-prone areas and restoring the land to natural floodplain functions," the authors write.
The fiscal impact of buyout programs is one of the biggest factors weighed by local governments in embracing or resisting buyout programs, according to the report. Incorporating financial considerations into the reuse of acquired properties and the relocation of residents is critical. For example, well designed parks can make nearby property more desirable, and open space projects can deliver water supply and flood prevention benefits.
"Restricted land use coupled with new amenities can increase property values and, in turn, increase local revenue," the authors write. "If local governments plan properly, homeowners can relocate within the municipality and thereby maintain, and even enhance, the tax rolls."
Buyout programs in the
Buyout programs can help break a cycle in which homeowners are incentivized to live in disaster-prone areas by federally subsidized flood insurance, which effectively shifts financial risks to the public. Under the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act many of these subsidies will be phased out, which is expected to raise premiums sharply for some residents and increase the need for alternative solutions such as buyouts.
Buy-In for Buyouts examines the use of buyouts in five communities in
Buyout programs played out very differently in each community. For example, the
In reviewing the cases studies and analyzing buyout programs across all levels of government, the authors make the following recommendations, among others, for designing and improving programs:
- Rethink the purpose and timeline of buyout programs as a long-term adaptation strategy, not merely for short-term recovery
- Standardize buyout program requirements at the federal level, and increase capacity at the state and local level
- Consider alternative funding models, such as land trusts or community preservation taxes
- Provide incentives for property owners – including the opportunity for entire blocks to relocate together
Asking residents or entire neighborhoods to uproot is "is laden with social and political difficulties," the authors write, which is why many communities have dismissed managed retreat as a strategy. However, the unavoidable impacts of climate change will require adding retreat to the adaptation toolbox, and this report will help communities craft the most effective and equitable programs before the next storm hits.
About the Authors
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