Floodplain Development Grows as Regulations Shrink

More Americans are moving to high-risk flood zones as environmental deregulation wins the day.

1 minute read

August 21, 2018, 10:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden


Flodding

Paul Sableman / Flickr

Significant residential and commercial development is increasing the population in flood zones around the country, according to an analysis by Governing.

"Nationally, the number of Americans living in these high-risk areas in 2016 climbed 14 percent compared to those living in the same neighborhoods in 2000. That's actually faster than in areas outside of flood zones, where the population increased 13 percent … In fact, nearly all states recorded net population gains across their FEMA-designated floodplains in recent years."

The federal government has taken significant steps to allow more development in floodplains—like scrapping the Flood Risk Management Standard and scaling back the Waters of the United States Rule—but cities are guilty of trying to skirt restrictions as well, as writer Mike Maciag details. And for people already living in flood zones, it's easier to get disaster assistance than relocation assistance.

In a case study of South Carolina's Johns Island, Maciag concludes that better coordinated planning among jurisdictions could result in more holistic protection of watersheds and safer development. "The best solution would be a unified, interconnected drainage plan for the entire island rather than one that has developers accounting only for their individual properties," he suggests.

Monday, August 6, 2018 in Governing

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

White Honolulu Skyline train on elevated track.

Hawai’i Transportation Projects Receive Federal Grants

State officials say they need around $15 billion to mitigate the impacts of rising seas.

6 hours ago - Honolulu Civil Beat

Close-up of office building with windows and sign for Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C.

Feds Announce Over $3 Billion in Homelessness Assistance Funding

The Continuum of Care grants are directed to programs that provide supportive services and boost housing stability.

7 hours ago - Building Design & Construction

Power plant infrastructure against a sky at dusk with a virtual white globe overlaid on top.

AI’s Growing Threat to Climate Justice

Emerging technologies like AI have great promise for climate innovation, but also a hidden environmental footprint could lead to disproportionate harm to low-income and marginalized communities.

February 28 - Brookings Institution

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.