Lessons in ‘Planned Relocation’

How communities can manage climate-induced relocation successfully and equitably.

1 minute read

August 22, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Collapsed road on coastal cliff in California

Road erosion along the California coast. | Bill Keefrey / Adobe Stock

A new paper published in Nature Climate Change examines the financial, physical, and cultural outcomes of managed retreat through 14 examples from around the world. 

As Ysabelle Kempe explains in Smart Cities Dive, the authors found that strong community engagement is key to successful ‘planned relocation’—the linguistic distinction matters, according to the study—which can occur when neighborhoods or towns find themselves at risk from coastal erosion, flooding, or other climate factors that make living in their current location unsustainable.

The study found that characteristics of the new location matter, but geographic distance may not be the most important factor in how easily people adjust: elevation change, social networks, and other factors can also impact how comfortable people feel in a new community.

The authors emphasize that “Planned relocation should never be the only option,” but that “It should be an open conversation where communities are informed about the range of options and then given their own time and space to come to conclusions about what makes sense.”

According to the study, “There's evidence to suggest that adaptation works best when it happens in a polycentric governance scheme involving many scales of government,” from national to local.

Monday, August 21, 2023 in Smart Cities Dive

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Delivery drone holding a brown paper wrapped box hoveringin air with city in background.

Utah Establishes Air Mobility Framework

The program outlines a statewide approach to delivery drones and other air transportation options.

45 minutes ago - PR Newswire

Amtrak train at Union Station with Chicago skyline in background.

St. Paul-to-Chicago Borealis Rail Line Launches

The Amtrak service, 12 years in the making, doubles the number of available trips on the corridor.

1 hour ago - Route Fifty

Three men riding recumbent bikes on paved greenway next to bayou with Houston skyline in background.

Houston Developers Question Mayor’s Stance on Pedestrian Projects

The new mayor’s reversal of road safety projects, some already underway or completed, is raising eyebrows among developers who say residents want walkable, mixed-use streets.

3 hours ago - Houston Chronicle

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.