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Building in the Danger Zone

<p>This article from <em>Next American City</em> looks at the new land use ideas that are guiding development in disaster-prone areas.</p>
April 1, 2008, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"How do you get developers, construction companies, insurers and homeowners to bear the costs of this new construction regimen?"

"'It's real simple,' say Rancho Santa Fe fire marshal and 37-year California fire-service veteran Cliff Hunter. 'Don't approve the plans. If you don't approve the plans, they don't get a house.'"

"Just like that, Hunter is helping to rewrite the drama that has long played out in communities from San Diego County to the Gulf Coast and in the multitudes of other regions across America where catastrophe and construction are co-stars. This drama stars the "greedy developer" and the "sentimental environmentalist." Should we build or shouldn't we build? It's the land-use equivalent of a Shakespearean dilemma, and just like Shakespeare's plays, it may seem real but it's ultimately fiction. Even with Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina firmly lodged in our collective memory, development in hazardous regions continues. Even if construction were to stop entirely in these regions, we would still have generations' worth of property and citizens to protect from a changing-risk environment that now includes the effects of climate change and the realities of aging infrastructure."

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Published on Saturday, March 1, 2008 in The Next American City
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