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After Big Storms: Rebuild Or No?

New York’s governor wants Superstorm Sandy victims to move off the coast. We’ll look at when and where to rebuild.

Carpenters install new siding on a storm-damaged beachfront house in the Far Rockaways, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 in the Queens borough of New York. (AP)

Carpenters install new siding on a storm-damaged beachfront house in the Far Rockaways, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 in the Queens borough of New York. (AP)

Last week, Congress finally approved $51 billion in aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy.  This week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo says in his state he wants to use a chunk of that big money to pay people not to rebuild on the shore.

To turn neighborhoods into wetlands, salt marshes, room for dunes.  To abandon communities in the path of rising seas.

In many ways, Washington subsidizes coastal life.  Now climate change is making coastal life more vulnerable.  Is it time to pull the plug?

This hour, On Point:  to rebuild or not to rebuild when Mother Nature comes ashore.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Matthew Schuerman, transit and economic development reporter for WNYC Radio. (@mlschuer)

Jessica Grannis, staff attorney and professor at the Georgetown Climate Center and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines and professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University.

Rep. Bill Pascrell,Democratic Congressman from New Jersey.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Daily News “Gov. Cuomo wants Hurricane Sandy victims who live along the coast to consider rebuilding their homes on stilts or selling their houses to the state and relocating. ‘At one point, you have to say maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want you here. Maybe she’s trying to tell you something,’ Cuomo said in a phone interview with the Daily News Editorial Board.”

CNN “The government should at this time help victims get their lives back on track. But no federal dollars should magically appear for rebuilding in flood-prone areas. The spots that flood will take repeated hits. Everyone knows this. To help people rebuild in those places is to help put lives and investment in harm’s way. It’s foolish.”

The Record “The aftermath of Katrina along the Gulf Coast, which set off a similarly massive infusion of federal aid, holds some lessons and cautionary tales, experts said. The rebuilding effort there was marked by complexity, confusion and, at times, controversy over spending priorities. The $50.5 billion Sandy aid package signed into law last week has the potential to pose similar challenges due, in part, to its size.”

 

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  • Ray in VT

    I think that the best answer is it depends.  I think that it is clear that we have built on some lands that are probably not well suited for residential or commercial property going forward, but some areas that are perhaps a bit risky could be made safe, or safer, with some investments like breakwaters or storm surge walls.  It will depend upon what amount of risk people are willing to take, given known historical events and/or likely events given known facts, as well as what proper insurance may cost them.  Perhaps companies or the government may not want to insure properties in some of these areas, but I think that it will be a labor intensive and time consuming process in order to figure out what those prices, policies and locations are and should be, and ultimately we will probably get some of those decisions wrong.

    • jefe68

      As they do everywhere. Vermont has it’s issues with storm damage as well if I remember that storm from two years ago.

      • Ray in VT

        Oh yeah.  Some properties were built in poor locations, and some otherwise decent properties fell victim to and event not seen since either 1927 or 1938.  It can be tough to plan for those things, and people have short memories.

        • Don_B1

          @rayinvt:disqus @jefe68:disqus 

          Looking at the projections for sea rise, without storms pushing an additional 10′ to 20′ of sea water over the land, the normal sea level is projected to rise around 6 feet by 2100. Depending on the land, this rise may affect only a few square miles to hundreds of square miles; e.g., the entire Everglades is only a few feet above the current sea level.

          But inland areas, such as the multi-valleyed Vermont, needs to have permanent structures built well above the flood-plain.

          Even areas where refuse is stored can lead to devastation as runoff can contaminate farmers’ fields. I know of one  farmer in Southern Vermont who Irene’s floods prevented from growing (organic) crops on land that was flooded with contaminated water. It will prevent him from using the land as he has been for years.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that you raise some very valid points, Don.  I also recall the stories about contaminated crops following Irene, where farmers were told that in many, most or all cases those crops were no longer suitable for consumption.

            I’ve pretty much always lived on a hill.  Living too close to water makes me nervous.

          • BHA_in_Vermont

            Not to mention those who’s fertile fields were washed downstream, replaced with gravel. No crops will be grown there for centuries, shy massive quantities of soil being trucked in.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

        And, sadly, FEMA won’t let what were undersized culverts be replaced with anything other than what was already there using FEMA money. They would rather pay more to do it wrong twice (or more) than it would cost to do it right once.

        Talk about short sighted.

    • hennorama

      Ray in VT – shoreline structures such as breakwaters, jetties, seawalls, groins, and revetments all have some significant downsides.

      One major issue is that some of these structures merely move the flooding issue downshore, past the ends of the protective structures.  Another is that when overtopped, some types of these structures will hold in the floodwaters and prevent them from receding, lengthening the impact of the flood on shoreline communities and individual properties.  One also needs to consider environmental and other impacts, which can be significant.

      For more on shoreline structures, see:
      http://www.beachapedia.org/Shoreline_Structures#Groins
      See photos of some shoreline structures here:
      http://picasaweb.google.com/santaaguila/Armoring#

      Then one has the other flood prevention and control measures such as levees, dams, floodwalls, dikes, flood control barriers in rivers, drainage channels, etc. – all with significant issues.  Again, overtopping extends the damage by preventing recession of flood waters.  Breaches and collapse are the largest threats, as are failures of pumping stations, dam controls and controls on automated barriers.

      One can only do so much to forestall damage.  Complete prevention of flooding is essentially impossible, and global warming magnifies potential impacts.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    The question isn’t, “should we build” but rather “ what shall we build and how should we build “ . If the ancients could find ways to make buildings ‘ earth quake proof ‘ , certainly we should be able to surpass their technologies regardless of weather phenomena.

  • Al_Kidder

    What was that story about building your house on the sand, or building on the rock.
    If you want a waterfront, buy a boat

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    Bailouts seem to be in order for risky investments of the wealthy…derivatives and waterfront property alike.

    Why should other citizens pay for the government to use their tax money to shore up the infrastructure of more expensive waterfront properties.  Put the money in schools instead of unstable shorelines.

  • Michiganjf

    It’s time wealthy developers stop screwing up coastal land and making money hand-over-fist while sticking taxpayers with all the long-term liabilities.

    NO, storm-ravaged coastal areas should not be rebuilt… at least, DEFINITELY not at taxpayers expense.

    Recompense homeowners and business owners in a manner equivalent to those suffering from inland catastrophes, then discourage redevelopment along coastal flood zones and sensitive coastal lands.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    There’s 2 levels to this – if it was just houses on the shore, we could just let individual owners work out the details with their insurance companies and let it go at that.

    But we also have streets, electricity, water, lights, police and fire, all the infrastructure that goes with building communities on the shore – decisions have to be made whether these will continue – or if they will be pulled back, regardless of those who wish to maintain their houses and businesses there. Kind of eminent domain in reverse.

    • hennorama

      oldman – flood insurance is virtually unavailable from private insurers.  It’s practically impossible for them to compete in this market, but this may be changing.

      One of the biggest problems is that flood insurance premiums under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) have been highly subsidized, with premiums far lower than what a private insurer would charge.  This has effectively encouraged property owners to build recklessly in areas that are prone to flooding.  These low rates have also made it virtually impossible for private insurers to directly compete in these markets.

      NFIP was changed significantly about 6 months ago, with many premiums and deductibles being increased and the program being put on a much more sound financial and actuarial footing.  The changes gradually remove subsidies for second homes and commercial properties, as well as properties with a history of repeated flood damage.  Some property owners, including many living in residences built decades ago, will continue to receive premium support.

      “In July, Congress extended the program through 2017 and tried to address some of these concerns by raising premiums on insurance holders, increasing the minimum deductible and requiring the NFIP administrator to come up with a plan to resolve its debt problem. Mike Barry of the Insurance Information Institute argues that these reforms have “put the NFIP on more actuarially sound footing going forward,”
      http://business.time.com/2012/10/30/should-the-federal-government-be-subsidizing-flood-insurance/#ixzz2AnP4Vodw

  • Coastghost

    We assume someone will invoke the comparable risks of construction in known earthquake zones. Cumulatively, how much did California extract from the Federal govt. over the 20th century, let’s say? (Throw in insurance contributions, too, where applicable.) How do the expenses of earthquake recovery compare to hurricane and flood recovery? 

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Rebuild once with improvements to infrastructure and deterrent measures against future “Big Storms”? Perhaps.

    Rebuild at taxpayer expense without infrastructure or deterrence improvements when an area is hit repeatedly just so that some wealthy schmucks get their Vacation McMansion back? No.
    Not just no, HELL NO.
    If you’re stinking rich and want to build your house on the sand more power to you. It’s completely on your dime though, maybe the lesson will sink in after a few “recoveries”.

    I know I’ve brought it up many times in the past but I’m tossing it out again as a lesson of what not to do: Galveston Island.

    • hennorama

      DrewInGeorgia – I agree with the sentiment behind your post.

      The risks of building in flood-prone areas have not been borne by those who build there.  This is yet another example of privatized profits and socialized losses and risks.  Without the subsidies from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the infrastructure and engineering support from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the recovery and rebuilding efforts of FEMA, few would build in these areas, and even fewer would REBUILD post-disaster.

  • Acnestes

    How about letting the entire US coastline go back to nature and make it one giant national park?

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Never hurts to dream…

  • DeJay79

    If increased storm strength and rising sea levels are our future then the whole City of New York is going to face the same issues as  New Orleans and I think that the Gov. should be more worried about that than the smaller population that lives on the coast.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

    The reason I slave a way to make a living to have the Federal government take 25% of what I earn is to make sure rich shorefront property owners too stupid to know the sea can swept their homes away are bailed out.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       They know, they buy flood insurance. Then their homes are replaced at no cost to them.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

        No, listen to what he is saying, the real taxpayer money being spent is through the Stafford Act by rebuilding the underlying structure and trying to keep the beaches and dunes replenished over and over and over.

        • BHA_in_Vermont

           I was referencing this in your post:
          “rich shorefront property owners too stupid to know the sea can swept their homes away”

          And they also know that all the infrastructure will be rebuilt at no cost to them.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NAKCXLPLH2BGHBDK5QNU3BA4XQ Steve

    We haven’t left much space for the non-human parts of the world, like dunes, swamps, and wave-beaten shores. How much time and money do we want to invest fending them off so that we can have every square inch for our own purposes? Does it feel good to be fighting against nature all the time? Do we enjoy a world filled only with human-scapes? Maybe it’s time to give back a little bit.

    • DeJay79

       we don’t need every square inch, we just need the best looking one’s with the best climates. Nature can have the valley of death and most of the great plains.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

    Any middle class people are going to take the money and leave because they can’t afford to rebuild without government help.

    The rich will rebuild and expect the government to save them again in the future.

  • Henry Lantigua

    We should not rebuild. It’s the definition of insanity and questionable spending choices. Beachfront resident tax contributions do not offset the tax subsidy of flood insurance or cost of beach erosion mitigation methods. We are acting like the kid holding his finger in the hole of the dike. We cannot hold back the ocean or the might of mother nature.

    • Don_B1

      The best, and really the ONLY, satisfactory beach erosion mitigation is to drastically cut the emission of CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels. It will not prevent repeat occurrences of Hurricane Sandy-like storms, but it will keep them at current (actually higher than current, but not anything like what will happen with more than 10′ of sea rise) levels.

      But the other benefits of reduced climate change from CO2 emission reduction will dwarf the costs of seashore rebuilding, because it will soon be apparent to all that rebuilding, at least as it has been done up to now, will be unsustainable. Unmitigated Climate Change will disastrously affect EVERY human on this planet, living on the seaside (about half do already) or inland.

      That does not mean that a dam across the New York Harbor will not make economic sense IF (and a BIG “IF”) CO2 reduction is achieved simultaneously.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    $400 million – that’s what? Maybe 400-800 coastal front properties? Doesn’t sound like it would go very far.

    Pulling houses aren’t enough – you need to pull the roads, power, sewer, etc. as well – otherwise this will just be banked properties to be developed in the future.

  • andreawilder

    And how about our coast loving Mayor Menino? Building Boston right out into the ocean.

    • jefe68

      Most of Backbay is built on landfill.
      If the seas do rise due to global warming, a lot of Boston and even more of Cambridge will be under threat and under water.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

         A HUGE chunk of Lower Manhattan is built on “reclaimed” land.  Wonder why the streets and subways flooded when Sandy blew through.

        http://www.racontrs.com/stories/nyc-land-reclamation/

        • Don_B1

          What was remarkable was that just about all (all to my knowledge) of the flooding waters came “over the top” of the surface. This means that, in theory (probably only that, with sea level rising), barriers could be built that would block the water’s access.

          Those that followed the removal of the World Trade Center buildings may have noted the “bathtub” of concrete that they were built in to keep seawater out (and the leaks that had developed) of the foundations.

          There was and is a program to develop a “inflatable plug” that could seal the entrances to tunnels to prevent sea water that does overflow surface barriers.

      • andreawilder

        Correct.

        Never mentioned.

    • Henry Lantigua

      It was not menino or bloomberg’s choice to build major metropolitan centers 2 feet off the ocean. there are hundreds of cities all over the US in the same situation.

      • andreawilder

        Not true.

        Menino is still talking coastal building–the Seaport, and he pushes it as hard as he can. Cambridge is missing in action.

    • AaronNM

      Has Menino been mayor for THAT long?

      • andreawilder

        For the current building push, yes. Not for the original building that has filled in chunks of the Boston coastline.

    • Henry Lantigua

      it’s pointless to discuss construction methods used over a hundred years ago. it was the method of the time. A hundred years ago climate change and ocean level rise was not even conceived in the wildest imagination of city planners.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

         True. New Orleans was built where it is DESPITE knowing 300 years ago that it was sinking land.

      • andreawilder

        I’m discussing construction practices & policies as of 2013.

  • Steve_the_Repoman

    Kelo v. City of New London

    Discuss with respect to shoreline/wetland development/reimbursement.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I have nothing to add to the wetlands aspect. I just want to put out the phrase John “Hot Tub Crime Machine” Rowland.

      That effing felon is getting paid to be on the radio on what used to be a respectable station.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    I hope that this show will address the roles played by insurance companies & real estate speculators as well as government sponsored relief efforts, post-storm.

    A lifelong resident of coastal New England, I’ve seen humble vacation cottages replaced by megabuck McMansions after every significant storm. These precariously located properties have actually gained market value- a hundred times over- when rebuilt as lavish second homes for the very wealthy.

    Natives have been driven away by unaffordable housing prices. I don’t know anybody who has been able to stay in their own neighborhoods after their homes have been wiped out by waves & winds. Rather, a new class of conspicuous consumers flock in to buy up the “distressed” land, then they either sell it for a huge profit or make massive, scenery-blocking rental condo blocks.

    Look at the town of Hull, on the South Shore of Boston, as an example. Once a summer resort with few winter residents it is now a bedroom community for the well-off who work in Boston. Where will all those people go after the next “Big One”?

    • Don_B1

      It could well be called “gentrification of the seaside,” but it is not new, just a bit more gaudy, although F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” documents much the same excess on the Long Island shore.

      The “well-off” will just move on to the next “desirable”area, and, while some will be hurt, others will just consider it “life.” When Sheldon Adelson can donate $100 million (admittedly looking for a $1 billion tax cut) losing a house worth “only” $50 million will not hurt that much.

  • Charles Vigneron

    I don’t want my insurance rates escalating to subsidize people who will not move to safety.
    They will need the resources to leave harm’s way. 

  • iccheap

    Lets do a better job of accounting for ecological consequences – there is much more to this situation than economic issues.  Our estuarial areas and the coastal interface are too developed.  Building in these areas is short sighted.

    I do realize this will be a hardship for many, but that’s not an excuse for avoiding tough – and sustainable – decisions.

  • jefe68

    Why not rebuild using some of the designs being used and developed by the Dutch. Houses that float.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jan/21/weather.architecture

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

      That doesn’t work on the ocean.

      • jefe68

        So the North Sea does not count.
        Well I guess someone should tell the Dutch they are wrong.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

          Is that house in the picture on the sea?

          • jefe68

            That’s an example of a house that was done by the designer and builder. There are houses on the coast that will rise up if there is a surge in the sea die to a huge storm. I’m not sure this kind of design would work everywhere but in areas such as New England and parts of Long Island and Stain Island some of the designs look like they would. And they are affordable some are under $400,000 to build.

            The North Sea is a very stormy body water. That’s why North sea oil rig workers make small fortunes.

            http://inhabitat.com/dutch-floating-homes-by-duravermeer

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

            How can you anchor a house on the sea and not have it damaged in a storm?

            Have you seen what these storms do to boats?

          • jefe68

            That’s a good question.
            I’m not sure they are designed to deal with large category hurricanes, but then again they seem to work for the Dutch.

            My point is that there is a way to design housing that will work in some of these areas. 

            I’m against building on barrier islands, such aas Fire Island, that should be a no go area as we move forward. 

        • BHA_in_Vermont

          But they aren’t ON the North Sea, they are in placid water behind sea walls. Sure that works, look at the “house boats” in Richardson Bay in Sausalito, CA just north of the Golden Gate.

          If you build a pool, you can put a floating house in it :) You aren’t going to put it on the windward side of a barrier island.

          • jefe68

            They are on the North Sea. Look at the map of the Netherlands. Those barriers will not stop a huge surge and the houses are designed to deal with that. You know what I think. I think you want good ideas to fail.
            If the seas are rising we had better find ways of dealing with it other than moving to Ohio.

    • Henry Lantigua

      this might not work in the ocean, but it would provide an alternative to those who wish to live on the water

    • hennorama

      jefe68 – there’s also this alternative – a 644 foot ship with 165 residences that continuously circumnavigates the Earth.  It’s named The World and was launched in 2002.  They don’t stay out at sea, of course, but some people do live onboard.  Seems a lot cheaper than building and maintaining a bunch of floating houses.

      http://aboardtheworld.com/our_story

      And then there are these “Top 10 Man-Made Island Paradises,” which no doubt have their own flooding-related issues.  Man’s hubris is amazing, isn’t it?:

      http://www.intlistings.com/articles/2008/top-10-man-made-island-paradises/

  • RobfromNY

    Tom,

    A couple of comments/ questions for your guests.   First,
    regarding your specific topic, I agree that the government not rebuild some of
    these mansion homes that are on the ocean at tax payer expense.  However, the topic is far more complex.   
    For
    example, what about cities such as Long Beach, New York that are small cities
    on the barrier islands. Long Beach is a small racially diverse city that
    include financial service professionals, large concentrations of firefighters
    and cops, etc…. Is it really practical to relocate everyone who lives there
    year round?     In the spirit of full
    disclosure, I have a  second home  (that is now a 2nd home) in Long
    Beach that was not damaged significantly by the storm (e.g. no I have not receiving
    rebuilding aid and I donated the general rental assistance to charity)

    Second, I have a more general comment on Sandy.  As a life-resident of the NY area (e.g. split
    between Manhattan and the suburbs on Long Island), I find the whining from some
    other parts of the US about rebuilding New York, New Jersey, and other areas
    hit by Sandy repulsive and somewhat hypocritical.  Congress is more than happy to take my tax
    dollars and redistribute it to the rest of the country (and both  NY  and
    NJ have two  the largest net tax outflows
    of any state), but when a huge storm hits NY and NJ, storm recovery is somehow not
    a federal responsibility?   Even the most
    ardent conservatives (like me) have to concede there is a role for the federal
    government in rebuilding infrastructure damaged by massive storms.

    • iccheap

      Actually no problem supporting rebuilding in certain areas, but when you’ve built up areas outside of levees and expect remuneration that is beyond reasonable.  How aware were these people that they were within areas that would frequently experience storm damage?  I would equate it to living in a floodplain.  You take on substantially more personal risk (or you buy expensive private insurance) when you make the decision to develop in these areas.

  • Coastghost

    WESTERN Carolina University, Tom, Asheville is rather in western NC: Coastal Carolina is located in Conway, SC.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    It is just amazing that people fill in a swamp, build on it then are surprised the area floods. Build on a barrier island and be surprised when it is washed over during a hurricane. You don’t need “global climate change” to cause the flooding, any big rain, hurricane, tropical storm will do it.

    I want a new rule. If you build in a flood zone, you can NOT get flood insurance. Not private and especially not government. If you can not personally afford a total loss in an area where you can EXPECT a total loss will occur at some point, don’t build there. And if you do, don’t ask others to pay for your foolishness.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    “Abandon” is not the right word – any areas “abandoned” are going to require very expensive tear down and clean up.

  • J__o__h__n

    I mostly agree that we shouldn’t bail out people who build in areas that are likely to be destroyed frequently, but this shouldn’t just be for the coasts.  Lands where there are frequent forest fires and tornados should meet the same standard. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

    What percentage of the owners of the home flooded and destroyed are even close to the median income of $48,000 a year?

    These owners are rich!

    Stop bailing them out with middle class and poor people’s tax dollars.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      You are absolutely correct. I grew up in Scituate, MA. I could never afford to live there, now, nor can any of my family. Also, I once owned an “affordable” home on Martha’s Vineyard, where the waves of super-wealthy constantly drive up housing prices yet produce no jobs or opportunities for people who grow up there. I had to sell & move away, at a modest loss, when all the jobs on the Vineyard started going to illegal immigrants from Brazil (they work cheap & live 10 to a room).  Sorry to say it but this country eats it’s own young, especially in coastal areas. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

        No kidding. I learned several years back that the workers on Nantucket were all Eastern Europeans shipped in for the “season” and payed little while Americans could barely find a job that payed crap.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

          Left Righty & TF- yes. My son did inherit a ramshackle cottage from his late father (on the Vineyard) but I doubt he’ll be able to keep it. Taxes, utilities and the 40% markup on EVERYTHING, from food to shoes, has caused “native drainage” there, on Cape Cod & all the coastal New England communities. It’s a very real exodus of the young, everywhere, now. Only those kids with trust funds get to stay.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Also, I once owned an “affordable” home on Martha’s Vineyard, where the waves of super-wealthy constantly drive up housing prices yet produce no jobs or opportunities for people who grow up there.

        Warning: It gets worse. It’s lately been happening in places less “vacationy” than the Vineyard. The new, expensive McMansions are forcing people out who’ve inherited their families homes in Ye Olde Fishing Villages all over New England because of the induced property taxes that they’d get if they sold. Sooooo screwed up.

        • BHA_in_Vermont

          It is true everywhere. Any time someone moves from a place where housing is more expensive than where they move to, they pay top asking dollar or more because they don’t recognize the local market value. Sure, they know they are paying more than market by a bit (which kills the ability of a local to buy it) but it is so much less than what they got for their old house (in Boston for example) it doesn’t matter to them. That, by default, raises the market value of every property in the area (and the property taxes of everyone else).

          A couple of years ago people with too much money bought a house for $500K that should have sold for MAYBE $325K, tore it down and built the ugliest thing I’ve seen in years. Then they cut down the 70′ oak trees in front of the house to improve their view of Lake Champlain across the road and behind a house. They have $1M in a house in a neighborhood where the nicest, biggest houses ON the lake side would go for $500K and the neighborhood average value would be closer to $275K.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            “Everywhere”, I agree, but I’d claim moreso on coastlines, both salt and freshwater. We can add Ye Olde Cabin on the Lake Upstate to the list with fishing villages.

            As the saying goes, “they’re not making any more of it.”

  • BHA_in_Vermont

     True. Those areas exist naturally to moderate the impact of storm surge coming in and rainfall heading to the sea. People want an ocean view and step all over the natural buffer zones.

  • Wahoo_wa

    I think if we rebuild our coastal communities we should require home owners to collectively hire visionary landscape architects, engineers and architects to design residential landscapes and building that work as a unit to reinforce coastlines.  The prime design professional should be the landscape architect.  Buildings can reinforce the landscape concepts developed by engineered links such as subsurface sea wall-like structures that could also serve to hold back the tide (so to speak) of any rising sea levels.

  • http://www.facebook.com/whagist Warren H.

    As an urban planner, I know the profession has advocated for years for development to respect at-risk coastlines, but our recognition of the risks has always had to take a back seat to popular pressure and development interests. I don’t propose tearing down what’s there — but I welcome Cuomo’s “don’t build back”  policy!

  • crocus99

    The coastal buyback program is brilliant and refreshing. It’s a relief to see that an actual policy maker is finally facing the reality of our evolving climate and environment. While this type of change can be painful, we simply cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.w.findlay Kimberly Wrede Findlay

    I really don’t see why taxpayers, who are stressed enough already, should be bailing out people’s oceanfront property. The global warming writing has been on the wall for years. Even without that threat, you take a chance living near the water. Why should you not take responsiblity for taking that chance?

  • mother_ness

    There are few topics less complicated than this one.  Your guest is right – do not rebuild in these coastal areas.

  • crocus99

    The coastal buyback program is brilliant and refreshing. It’s a huge relief to see that an actual policy maker is facing the reality of our evolving climate and environment. This type of adaptation can be painful, but we simply cannot keep repeating the same action while expecting a different result.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    This reminds me very much of how newly built housing in the mountain(and mountainous) west have outpaced the fire departments’ and water co’s infrastructure to put out fires there.

    (The history of northern New England is filled with incredible resorts from the late 1800s which have largely burned to the ground for the same reason.)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The cost of removing these houses, streets, etc., is going to be phenomenal in itself.

    • Henry Lantigua

      i don’t think we should pay anything. by abandoning the site (or making it incredibly expensive to live there) we will allow mother nature to do the work for us. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

        Maybe a beach front cottage – what about a gas station?

        I can also imagine squatting in beach front property would be very popular.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Yeah, many things just can’t be left there. Like the famous shipwrecks in Wiscasset, Maine, at some point they’re just too dangerous to let nature take its course.

  • sickofthechit

    Are people who did not have flood insurance who lived in a flood zone being given money to rebuild?  If so, I have to say that is a perversion of the NFIP.

    • Henry Lantigua

      their payouts will come from the federal disaster declaration.

      • sickofthechit

         Nothing like continuing to shoot ourselves in the foot!

  • imjust Sayin

    I am against subsidizing actual risk.

    But, if by subsidize, you say we taxpayers foot the bill for mathematicians, administrators, office equipment etc…  I am okay with that.  That means taxpayer money helps commerce function well.

    We have mathematicians called actuaries.  We can have defined benefits to insure against floods.  Actuarial mathematicians can figure out the risk and figure out the fair premiums.

    We might not ever have enough money to constantly rebuild everything all the time.  But, we can say, you can insure your property for a defined rebuild amount of money.  Then you pay an honest rate.

    So the same deal would go for cities and insurance for infrastructure.

    If commercial insurers can’t do that, and still cover the overhead because the math can’t work, then we taxpayers can help keep commerce going, and recoup insurance premiums.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Wetlands and coastlines are two different things.  I don’t think Tom knows the difference.  Beaches are not wetlands either.

  • Kathy

    I’m against subsidizing unsustainable development in sensitive areas, whether it’s coastlines, fire zones, or wherever. However, I don’t remember having this discussion when red states get smote by a natural disaster and I can’t help but think the political commentary here is just another part of the Cold Civil War.

  • Molly Pittman

    Why are we paying to rebuild doomed mansions (if they had 20 million to buy a house, they should be on their own, in my opinion) when we can’t even feed/educate/house everyone in our country?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

      Well the rich count, the hungry and poor don’t.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSSZX2JK43AU7VFAF5XIZ34ZIE Left Righty

    In other words rich people who don’t need a roof over their heads but do expect to have the taxpayer pay over and over and over for their beachfront property.

  • AC

    you know, it’s not all ‘vacation’ homes or just ‘towns’. there’s a lot of jobs in coastal areas and major ports to consider, so towns developed from people who want to live close to work (jerks who deserve no sympathy according to some commentary)…
    sheesh.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       But which came first. The “service” jobs or the people that need the services? The world trade center was built on land that did not exist in 1660. ALL of Battery park is “reclaimed” land. Building on land that was marsh or ocean isn’t exactly a new thing.

      You are right, not everyone living in Sandy ravaged areas are rich vacation home owners. Working people just living their lives.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        The people who WANT- not need- the menial services of cleaners, landscapers & nannies come first. Natives who work hard in order to simply live are no longer welcome to apply for these jobs. I get the feling that, as “second class citizens”, the snobbery & discrimination of rich folks drives us away on purpose. We represent a “threat” to their power- especially when we own land that THEY want for themselves- because we don’t bow down low enough for their liking.    

        • AC

          why service class jobs? what if they’re just middle-class fishermen who own their own small fleet or 3 or 4 boats? boat-makers? artists? what if they run a tug service for all the freight or cruise traffic? environmentalists? fishery and wildlife scientists? what if they are garbage barge operators? a ferry service? port authorities? 
          maybe because i’ve grown up along the coast in both Europe and the US, I am aware of the realities of coastal life because, I know this sounds rude-ish (sorry) but this comment seems ridiculous to me – everything so black or so white (but full of drama). or some kind of simplified single-variable philosophy that’s equivelent to the capacity of a typical 5 year old…
          ‘power threats’ and ‘bowing’. sheesh. that’s just poop. i hope the next time you eat seafood, you ponder it’s origins, as well as it’s journey to your plate.
          Most of life is much, much more than ‘us’ vs. ‘them’.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mark.augustson Mark Augustson

        My family goes back to the 1700′s on Hatteras Island in NC.  

  • iccheap

    My understanding of certain coastal areas is that owners assume complete responsibility for loss.  I had asked someone about the irrational locations of some of the enormous beach homes on Kiawah Island, SC.  If this is correct, does anyone know if this is region based?  Not sure if that is correct, but it certainly makes sense.  Personally I don’t believe resources should be wasted to develop in areas like this, but that’s my opinion.             

    • Wahoo_wa

      Some damage is not covered by insurance.  Here’s a good resource for understanding what the federal government doles out:  http://www.fema.gov/you-apply

  • burroak

    What if we have another Hurricane Sandy, not ten years from now, but next year. We cannot predict or guarantee that “mother nature” will not be complacent for the next 100 years.
    If she is in a mood, she will unleash her fury, yet again, on our eastern seacost.
    Maybe some of this shoreline should be renatured with coastal flora.
    Is Hurricane Sandy a fluke or an acute example of climate change?
    It is a gamble to rebuild on the shoreline; and remember, Superstorm Sandy was a catergory one hurricane.

  • imjust Sayin

    Your guest made a very good point.  Some of the people who expect extraordinary risk subsidies for their beach mansions, are holding a grudge against their neighbors who would like to visit the doctor.

    If we can have honest rate maps for flood insurance, and simply subsidize the paperwork, I like that. 

    But going to the doctor is not a luxury.  We can do more for people who need health insurance.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    People build on islands, mountains, wilderness, all sorts of remote areas without services or subsidies. This should be the model for coastal land.

  • Charles Vigneron

    Some towns and cities on the Jersey, Long Island coast, were salt marshes filled-in in the 1680s to 1740s. Old Public-Domain books of Documents Relating to New Jersey, Series I, have copies of the original orders allowing this.
    I’d wager much of this is long forgotten.

  • iccheap

    Tom,

    Beyond climate change structuring our building we should be governed, at least as much, by sustainability.  That should be the largest factor structuring new construction.  The economics of this are nothing more than a direct reflection of pervasive unsustainability in our society.

  • Wahoo_wa

    In New England we get hit with snow storms that are declared disasters.  The federal government reimburses for things such as snow removal when a disaster is declared.  Should we not allow building in places where there is snow?  Where do you draw the line?  The answer is to innovate not stagnate (and run away).

    • Ray in VT

      If big snow storms are disasters, then I wonder if I can get the feds to pay for plowing my driveway.

      • Wahoo_wa

        LOL…several years ago I worked for a museum organization and was responsible for putting together the application for reimbursement for snow plowing expenses.  We received quite the payout from the government!

        • Ray in VT

          Sigh.  As you said, where does one draw the line.  You know the kind of snow that the Northeast gets, so I would think that unless there was some sort of extreme, and I do mean extreme, snow storm, then that should probably just be chalked up to natural variations.  On the other hand, if clean up from some huge storm costs in the tens of millions, somewhere in the range of something like an earthquake, wildfire or tornado, then why should it not get the status?  It does seem like an odd concept, though.  I have in laws out in Syracuse, and I also have friends from Buffalo, and they get slammed by lake effect snow.  That’s just the way that it is there.

  • AaronNM

    The dismantling of damaged communities by either fiat or attrition must be coupled with a new model for development based on resilience and sustainability. Even if people move inland, the fact of the matter is that there would be hundreds of thousands of displaced people who need to build communities which provide both environmental and economic security.

  • J__o__h__n

    This shouldn’t be considered without also cutting farm subsidies and rural subsidies.  The coastal areas pay a lot of federal tax dollars. 

    • Wahoo_wa

      Oooo….good point regarding the fly over states!

  • sheryltr

    I grew up on the South Shore of MA and have seen the destructive power of the ocean first-hand. As the sea level rises with global climate change, it makes no sense to rebuild over and over again. It is not sustainable in the long term.

  • iccheap

    Corps of Engineer projects are usually attempts to subvert natural processes.  It doesn’t work to think like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.weiskel Tim Weiskel

    In Boston there are several sources of positive and progressive thinking including all the work of Paul Kirshen
    and
    http://www.climate-talks.net/2006-ENVRE130/CCTV-Programs/Episode-Index.htm
     

  • Gordon Green

    The sad reality of climate change is that the world we have built for will change, not just on the coasts, but everywhere.  The problems are likely to be widely distributed: droughts in agricultural areas, trees down in forested areas, river floods, coastal storms, there really aren’t any areas where residents can smugly point to those fools who decided to live in risky areas.  

    But we should definitely triage the cases – certainly second homes on the beach should not be our priority.  Not so long ago, the earth’s climate was too unstable to support agriculture and cities at all. That may be where we are headed once again, even if we do try to do our best to stop it.  But we are alas, not even doing that.

  • Coastghost

    And BTW: how much money, time, effort does the Commonwealth of Massachusetts propose dedicating itself to over the next five decades to preserve the entire length of Cape Cod? (I much liked Robert Young’s insistence on local responsibility for facing long-term development.) If Provincetown becomes an island or simply becomes a submerged feature of Cape Cod Bay, will Massachusetts simply accept the decrees of nature? 

  • stillin

    When I heard the congressman speaking, I mean no disrespect but all I can picture is house of cards. It’s all I see, all I hear, and it’s what I hear now when I hear government speaking. I always heard it, but now that I have a visual, it’s even louder.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Help for rebuilding in normal-risk areas should not be equated with the same for high risk areas. If you want a house where high tide is close to your front door under normal conditions, you dam sure should be on your own for financing it.

    Of course as the CO2 builds up, formerly “normal” areas will become high risk. I can understand giving folks a break in such cases – once.

    OTOH, in the righty lt universe where the laws of physics have been nullified, any amount of CO2 is no problem, so we could forget the whole issue. Let the fossil fuel burning continue!

    • hennorama

      Typos as Freudian slips that make me chuckle, Part 3:

      “If you want a house where high tide is close to your front door under normal conditions, you dam sure should be on your own for financing it.”

      “dam” vs. “damn” made me chuckle, relative to the topic.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Ha ha. 

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Which of these statements makes the most sense:

    We must re-build for the future!
    or
    We must build for the future.

    Great show today, thank you OP staff and guests.

  • Tyranipocrit

    pull the plug.  The ocean should be public land–not privatized for the privileges of a few. 

    In most countries the ocean is not parceled out and sold.  

    As much as i love it and would want ocean front property, i think it’s wrong in some ways.  i think when there is private property on the ocean it should be communal by some measure–the community has access to the beach via your property–the house set off the shore a ways.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Reminds me of Billy Bulger’s comment when asked to remove himself from the private beach of an oceanfront landowner (who had no idea that Bulger was then Speaker of the Mass. General Assembly): “The beach, I says, the beach!”  Bulger’s Beach Law did make certain portions of the waterfront open to the public, but only for fishers & other folks who walk where the waves break at mean low tide.

    • hennorama

      Tyranipocrit – your views were embraced by California voters and legislators through the establishment of the California Coastal Commission in 1972 and the adoption of the California Coastal Act (CCA) of 1976.

      Under California Law the public has the right to use all lands “seaward of the ambulatory mean high tide line.”  The CCA also states

      “The legislature further finds and declares that the basic goals of the state for the coastal zone are to: . . .
      (c) Maximize public access to and along the coast and maximize public recreational opportunities in the coastal zone consistent with sound resources conservation principles and constitutionally protected rights of private property owners.”

      California has more than 890 public access coastal areas, in large measure due to the CCC and CCA.

      This is not without controversy, as one might expect.  Those who own or newly purchase oceanfront property often attempt to limit public access and public use of the beaches and shoreline.  Many highly contentious (and entertaining) lawsuits have resulted.
      http://www.coastal.ca.gov/whoweare.html

      • Tyranipocrit

         thank you for that information.  In Florida, every inch of ocean and coastal water way is developed by millionaires and billionaires with few public beaches–but you cant go far before running into private property.  The inland waterway is being devoured–a precious ecosystem–deforested (What litle is left)–and if you dont have a boat you are excluded.  I have been privileged to this but I dont think its right.  In the north, we develop lake front property–beautiful–but its not right either- new york and new england is full of lakes and most of it is parceled out and developed–summer homes for the rich (and the worrkig class, depending on the lake), and huge lawns.  Ther is always public access but the lake views and pleasures should not be rserved for the filthy rich, and again ecosystems were leveled for this–forest old growth mulched–not to mention the landscape, the skyline, the landline.

        I agree with the comment above which said, make the coasts, an much of fresh bodies as well–state/national parks.   Im not saying there is an easy way to this, and it would have to be a process as discussed here. In fact, all mansions are unsustainable and unnecessary–we need new building codes–green codes.   Nobody should be developing mountain land either, especially in fire zones. 

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    Land Management?

    Overt socialism, right? Or is it good planning?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      The aristocracy & landed gentry have practiced land management for millennia. They didn’t call it “socialism” then, they called it “looking out for number 1″ or, more simply, feudalism.

      • Tyranipocrit

         Capitilaism is just socialism for the individual–at the expense of everything, everyone, damn the earth and other living beings–let them choke and die–just get them out of my face.

        • Tyranipocrit

           Corporatism is just socialism for the rich and corporations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.augustson Mark Augustson

    I’m from Cape Hatteras North Carolina.  My family has been on the island since the 1700′s.  We’ll stop paying for inland road repairs and F-17s when you stop subsidizing flood insurance.  It’s a zero sum game.

    • hennorama

      Mark Augustson – respectfully, it is not  a zero sum game.

      Your family’s history of residence is commendable.

      However, flood insurance subsidies are going away.  The subsidies have disguised the costs involved in building in flood-prone areas, and have encouraged development in areas where it makes much less economic sense when the true costs are taken into account.

      The risks of building in flood-prone areas have not been borne by those who build there.  This is yet another example of privatized profits and socialized losses and risks.  Without the subsidies from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the infrastructure and engineering support from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the recovery and rebuilding efforts of FEMA, few would build in these areas, and even fewer would REBUILD post-disaster.

      The authority of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was extended for 5 years until September 30, 2017 under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which was signed into law on July 6, 2012.  This Act significantly changes and reforms NFIP.  Premiums and deductibles are being increased and the program is being put on a much more sound financial and actuarial footing.  The changes gradually remove subsidies for second homes and commercial properties, as well as properties with a history of repeated flood damage.  Some property owners, including many living in residences built decades ago, will continue to receive premium support.

      You personally are likely to continue to receive “premium support” until the NFIP authorization expires in Sept. 2017.  However, you would be well-advised to plan for the removal of those subsidies thereafter.

      [EDIT/ADD]: For a summary of the reforms contained in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, see:

      http://www.floods.org/ace-files/documentlibrary/2012_NFIP_Reform/2012_NFIP_Reform_Act_ASFPM_Summary_of_Contents.pdf

      For an analysis of the changes, see:

      http://www.georgetownclimate.org/analysis-of-the-flood-insurance-reauthorization-and-reform-law-2012

      - and -

      http://www.georgetownclimate.org/sites/default/files/Analysis%20of%20the%20Flood%20Insurance%20Reform%20Act%20of%202012.pdf

      • Tyranipocrit

        His family history is not commendable–if he owns land on an island in carolina form the 1700s its most likely slave money.

        • hennorama

          Tyranipocrit – regardless of whether what you claim is false or true, one cannot choose one’s parents or ancestors. It is therefore useless to impugn the validity of a poster’s comments with implications related to their family’s past.

          My intended meaning of “history” was the neutral “established record/tale.” My intended meaning of “commendable” was the neutral “notable.”

          If you prefer, you can substitute the following for my original phrasing – “Your family’s established record of residence is notable.”

          • Tyranipocrit

             ok, i can accept that–thanks for clarifying.  i was not attacking you however, or argument, i was attacking the idea.

          • Tyranipocrit

            i was attacking the idea that he feels his owning property  since that time is somehow notable or commendable–im not sure that it is considering the circumstances of ownership–regardless of how many years have passed–it is still illegitimate. 

          • hennorama

            Tyranipocrit – TY for your response. I understand and respect your views.

            Again, as I’ve stated, one cannot choose one’s ancestors nor control the outcomes of one’s ancestors’ actions. My perspective is that given the penchant of Americans through the years to move to “greener pastures,” a family remaining in the same spot for centuries is notable. How this came to pass may be interesting or not, but the mere fact of the length of time in one place is remarkable.

            Thanks again for your response.

    • Tyranipocrit

       so you think you live in an independent country–are you tiawan now?  your argument is completely senseless.  The roads on the mainland that you uses benefit you and bring you goods and services.  Another smart guy in the south.

  • Gregg Smith

    I don’t think we should be telling people they can’t build on their own land. Do we tell people in Joplin, MO they can’t build in the tornado belt? Or people in CA they can’t build because of fires or earthquakes? Let the insurance premiums and building codes reflect the risks.

    • http://twitter.com/Dragonsong73 Eric R. Duncan

      Yes we do tell people not to build on thier land all the time. Ever heard of this lot wont perk?

      or Zoned Commercial?

      • Gregg Smith

        I said the building codes should reflect the risks. If a lot won’t perk it doesn’t meet code. Land that is Zoned Commercial does get built on.

        • Tyranipocrit

           should it be? who zones it? why should your opinion or joe blow’s opinion be prominent over mine or his or hers?  the point of a democracy is to include everyone on these things in discussion, debate and law-making.  democracy is not a fascist sport.  The group should always come before the individual–human civilization new this from time immemorial–but capitalists, and americans reversed this logic–thanks adam smith–and now we believe justice, compassion, and democracy is self-interest–the self over the group.  That’s retarded and insane and psychotic–its evil.  its called anarchy. (not the philosophy)

    • Tyranipocrit

      what about the ecosystem? what about pubic rights to the ocean and earth resources–why shoudl the rich build walls around it and criminliaze the rest for approaching it?  why shoudl they get all the clean air and benefits of seawater rejuvenation?  A godd humane, moral, ethical, civilized, intelligent, educated, reasonable, just, viruous society does not behave like this.  Resources are public property–earth property–and no one shoudl have the right to plunder it–whether exclusive ocean views or minerals, water, and energy–you might have paid money to extract ti but it was money you made by hiring cheap, even ilegal labor, sometimes exploiting wage-slaves to increase profits 1000 times the service the worker provided to produce it–and the community was never given the choice between local community-organized energy production or private industry–it was forced on them, or coerced, and when the public protests private exploitation for the benefit of the 1%, their needs and happiness is denied, even chastized, and criminalized–anyone defending their community, famly and persoanl health is now an eco-terroist.  The constitution is a joke.  YOur freedom and demococracy is a joke. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dhrosier Dreighton Rosier

    The general public IS subsidizing people who choose to live in high risk areas because the prices they pay for properties there do not reflect the cost of risk that is inherent in that property.  Exactly what the risk is varies considerably among the properties nationwide.

    Current practice is to wait until the disaster occurs then think about how to pay for the damages, except to some extent flood insurance does force some the cost of floods to be reflected (at least in part) in the cost of owning some properties.  The individual owners have control over all forms of insurance (except flood).  The cost of disaster risks reflected in the insurance premiums is a real cost of owning that property.  The only question is who will pay it and when.  We have seen the tremendous cost burdens of natural disasters paid by the government so many times it is sophistry to argue that natural disaster insurance should be voluntary.

    Factors in calculating disaster insurance premiums are very closely aligned with the factors considered in calculating real estate taxes.  It is at that level that natural disaster insurance should be managed, both risk premium determinations and collection of the money to pay for those risks.

    The program would be much too large to be underwritten by insurance companies.  There would be one body of risk and assets for all properties.  Insurance companies and/or professional entities would be contracted to determined risk for the program.  Equity of risk allocation and reimbursement would be achieved through the underwriting process.

    Yes, many high risk areas would likely not be developed because the insurance premiums would  be so high as to discourage any projects.  However, without the control of the insurance premium to reflect the cost of risk the general public is forced to accept the cost burden after the disaster strikes.

    The other major advantage would be the ready source of financing when disaster does strike.  In place of thousands of hours of debate and fighting over raising the cash, and the poor control that comes from haphazard actions in emergency legislation, there would be the capacity to initiate well thought out disaster plans for which funding is solidly in place.

    The idea the government is not in the role of natural disaster insurance is a fiction, we do provide it after the fact in chaos and with exacerbated costs.

    • Al_Kidder

       I get what you’re saying, but if the risk is reflected in the price of property, wouldn’t that make the property cheaper?

      • Mike_Card

        The existence of subsidies warps the market.

        • Tyranipocrit

           true.  but in some cases the market must be warped–otherwise we get 1% rich and powerful–landed gentry aristocrats and we get the serfdom, we get wastelands, poison air and water and food.  We get boom and bust–we recession and depression and mistrust and fear and terror and unrest–regulation is necessary–we must subsidize entites necessary for society that slef-motivate greedy capitalists will never do for “thier” community that consumes their products–we must subsidize green technoloy and organic food and super trians–communty benefits–not corporations and private interests as we do now–factory farming, corporate-farms, air travel, war, armies, banks, auto industry, insurance companies…welfare for the rich–socialism for the rich–damn the res–its disgusting–its a fact and it cannot be disputed by a rational human being.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SteffenWSchmidt Steffen W Schmidt

    This was a hugely important show. As a professor of Coastal Zone management at Iowa State and Nova Oceanographic Center in Ft. Lauderdale I commend you for great guests and smart coverage of the huge problems we face in coastal communities. i will be linking to your show in a free MOOC Coastal Policy and Coastal Politics: Problems and Solutions that I’ll be offering this summer  and I’d be happy to answer any questions at coastal @ iastate .edu The biggest issue is certainly that we have removed so much risk through local, state and federal subsidies for insurance, flood coverage, beach renourishment after storms, FEMA assistance and other programs.
    In the historical past American stayed away from the coast and had small and expendable beach cottages. they could be rebuilt once destroyed by finding all the boards (marked with the owners name!) and reassembling them. A far cry from the billions of high end structures and infrastructure we put in harms way on the beaches and sandy barrier islands today.

    • hennorama

      Steffen W Schmidt – perhaps this is the wave of the future for coastal development.  (tongue only partly in cheek)

  • http://www.facebook.com/SteffenWSchmidt Steffen W Schmidt

     The discussions on this topic are fantastic!  For a political Scientist like me they are the example of free speech and democracy at work. AT ITS BEST!

    They reflect the painful discussions that take place over any issue – guns, gay marriage, abortion, farm subsidies, big oil etc. In a democracy that highly prizes private property which is the heart, the core of our society, expropriation, taking, etc. is a risky business. Having national seaside parks is a great way to avoid these tragedies. Offering people a good deal to buy them out to set aside land for conservation is also a “market solution.” Incentives to take risks in building are NOT a good idea.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    I wonder if there are any self-made, gub’mint hating, “entitlements” bashing, totally independent, rayndish types, who think think they are entitled to subsidies for living in high-risk areas?

    It would be even more bizarre if they though burning fossil fuels was A-OK.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      The social conundrum – “I brake for piping plovers in my Range Rover”- is amazingly clear. Hypocrisy as a way of life appears to be the American preference.

  • StilllHere

    Rebuild at your own risk. Same for New Orleans.

    • Tyranipocrit

      i am not in favor of rebuilding the rich mansions but–is it really so black and white–your sentiment implicates that we are not a society at all–not a nation and should not wave any flag or unite under it an army ever–we are are all self-interested individuals and we should not ever ever ever try to build a society in any shape or form–you are on your own, always–that is a kind of anarchy is it not?  A world where everyone is to be feared-everyone is trying to devour everyone else–min min mine and i dont need your help–get away from me–hissing with sawed teeth and wild hair–clawing at flesh–we eat our young, we eat our neighbors–we are capitalists, we a zombies, we are vampires, we are pigs.  Wow, what a beuatiful country!  Home of the brave.  We live in a dystopia now, not in books and movies. 

      In those movies the zombies can only be killed by destroying the brain–the zombies are mindless consumers and capitalists motivated by self-interests–damn the rest!  And the mainstream media–is your manufactured consent–the brain destoryer–truingin you into zombie vampirs form outerspace.  So we human beings must defend ourselves–we must eradicate the zombies–we must put them out of their misery.  We must remove them form good earth so that the rest of can simply live, and live in the pursuit of happiness–not fear and terror.

      • jefe68

        That sir, is the mindset of a libertarian. 

        • Tyranipocrit

           im sorry–what is?

  • 1Brett1

    My house is in a flood zone. It’s by a river; yet, it’s up high on a ridge, high above the river. In the 105 years since the place was built it has never been flooded by high waters/floods that have occurred in the town. I still have to carry flood insurance because of its proximity to the river. It’s not really very much, and I don’t mind; however, I am subsidizing the insurance of others who have built directly on the river, down in the valley.

    My brother has a summer home in a beach resort town. A huge hurricane came through about ten years ago and destroyed about 95% of all homes in the area. His rates are through the roof. While I feel all of the new construction that has taken place since the hurricane destroyed the old homes is still much too close to the beach (many are built directly into the dunes), that area does have new building codes that require all new construction to be up on 12 foot stilts. It’s at least something that makes sense.

    I’m ambivalent about bailing out property owners who have built too close to areas of regular, known disasters, and I do see both sides. 

    In most beach towns, buildings are way too close to the beach, yet many places have little going on economically except real estate and resort/service businesses. The whole economy revolves around the beach. However, many of these places could still thrive if there were restrictions on how close to the beach new construction were allowed. I also like the idea of building codes being stringent and appropriate to the types of elements buildings would be exposed. In places where there is new construction mostly, I am, more or less, against bailing out those who have suffered losses in a natural disaster (one that can easily be predicted as having regular occurrence). It is up to the owners to provide themselves with proper insurance, at whatever rate is available.

    In older, well-established cities, i.e., NYC, New Orleans, etc., I feel those are different matters, and a combination of high insurance rates, strict building codes, innovative engineering, and disaster relief, can be involved in concert to solve many problems. 

    • jefe68

       I am subsidizing the insurance of others who have built directly on the river, down in the valley.

      Kind of the idea of insurance.

      • Ray in VT

        I suppose that it is, but if one’s property isn’t in a flood plain or a flood risk area, but one is still required to have it, then isn’t it a bit like requiring one who does not have a car to have car insurance.  I mean sure, a flood could happen to just about anyone, but for a lot of people the likelihood of having such an event occur is so unlikely to nearly be statistically zero.

      • 1Brett1

        Which is why I prefaced my statement with “I don’t mind,” which I don’t mind; as you say, it’s how insurance works. By the same token, insurance is based on a risk assessment of some form.

        There are some who’ve built McMansions right on the river, however, and that does give pause for concern as to how impractical some can be with having an expectation that they are to be continually supported by the community in their risky choices (not to mention their personal desires seem to really destroy the public nature of the river’s activities), and they always seem to be the ones who cry foul when folks inadvertently “trespass” on their property while on a leisurely river walk.  

        The photo at the top seems to exemplify the very impractical thing I mention; the house being fixed up after the storm is right on the beach, yet it’s not up on stilts…this seems just plain stupid to me. How many times do the owners get help in making their property habitable again if they build in the same spot without regard for modifying the structure to it make better able to sustain damage from a storm?

        • jefe68

          Which is why the premiums on the river bank should be higher than on your property. this has happened all over Cape Cod. A lot of people can’t afford home insurance now because the insurance companies have used a big net approach to this. You can have a home that is miles away from the coast and yet are still considered a high risk due to the possibility of a hurricane.  

  • Fishermanidaho

    Go ahead and build, but no more Gov assistance for the next hurricane.

  • fordag

    First off, people should be allowed to live on the seacoast if that is what they want.  If they choose that life though they must be willing to shoulder the risk.  That may come in the form of higher building costs and higher insurance premiums.  Possibly even the risk of insurance companies not insuring them at all.

    That also means that people who choose to live in a flood zone, an earthquake zone, or any other place, where it has through past experience been reasonably demonstrated to be disaster prone, should not expect the government to bail them out. 

    Insurance is one thing, buy all you want, if you can get it.  However making the whole populace pay via taxes funding disaster relief, because some people want to live near the beach or on a pretty landslide prone hillside is unfair.

    • Tyranipocrit

       dont you think many people whould choose to live on the water if they could–should money be the only determining factor–if you are rich you are better and have more privilieges–you are a higher class?  what about ecosstems necessary to all of us to the stability of the planet and human life as we know it. what about pursuit of happiness–when the rich pursue self-interst abve all else they deprive others of simply living and simple happiness and rights, and justice, and protectiv laws, and educatin, and health care and insuracne, and transportation, and luxury of beautiful earth scenes…

      • fordag

        Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No one has the right to expect the government to rebuild their house for them because it was built in an area prone to natural disasters and was destroyed by one of those disasters. Taking risks is fine so long as you are willing to take the full responsibility for those risks yourself.

        • Tyranipocrit

           i dont think we are talking about the same thing–your response to me is not a response at all–i agree with you–that those who live there now should shoulder the burden of that risk.  but as far as pursuit of happiness–my previous comment mentions we do not actually have the right as we shoudl or it is stated in our constitution–that binds us a nation–you must be rich to pursue such things and it si the rich who can bend laws, warp laws, beak laws without consequences–and make the laws–for themsleves–proving pursuit of happness for themleves whille systematically preventing it for others.  By occupied such land they deprive others of freedom and happiness and all the force and power fo the state is behind it.  Thus you must be rich to have rights and freedom.  So then what binds us?  Nothing.  There is one nation for Forbes, and quite another for damned, the sqalid, the unwashed, the cake eaters.

          I am saying, we do not have th epriviliege or the right to pursue happiness and freedom.  And that a free state, a democratic state, united, would not allow such resources to be capitalized by a minority.

  • Jackson33

    Cuomo is definitely on point. We cannot expect tax payers to continually bail out everything from massive corporations and banks to big to fail, to homeowners and businesses that fall “victim” to natural disasters. Pretty soon, there will be no tax payer well to get those funds from. How anyone, let alone those with great intellects and fancy Ivy league degrees can come to these crazy conclusions of rebuilding in areas of such risk is beyond me. If the Ocean wants to retake the land it certainly will and it certainly will again. Just as the skies will open up and tsunamis will come ashore in South East Asia after an earthquake. It’s not Armageddon folks, it’s nature. Get used to it. What about homes destroyed by lava flows in Hawaii? Shall we pay for rebuilding homes in the path of a lava flow as well or homes and businesses in tornado alley? Oddly enough, many of the towns hit hard by Hurricane Sandy are in very wealthy towns where the tax rates are much, much lower than in the working class or poor communities, yet the poorer communities foot the bill for the rich homeowners. Enough is enough.  I applaud Governor Cuomo. At least he’s on the right track and admits that this stupid behavior must end. If you lost your million dollar home in Sea Side Park, then just get over it, take you insurance settlement and move inland and stop complaining. It’s ridiculous already.

    • Tyranipocrit

       but they wont.  so we need to force or coerce them.  And give the ocean back to society and earth

  • Gregg Smith

    I didn’t see the focus on AGW coming. How silly of me. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=615337039 Tom Resta

    i grew up on the Jersey Shore and lived in Manhattan. Building Moratoriums and buy backs are the way to go.

  • Jackson33

    The conjecture as to the cause of such storms as Sandy does not matter though AGW is highly suspect. If an area is prone to disaster, or even if it’s not, tax payers should not pay to replace the damage. Leave it to private insurance and let the risk fall on those who choose to remain in these areas. We need to smarten up when it comes to building, rebuilding and over building and pushing nature beyond its limits. Much of lower Manhattan is built on fill. The whole thing should be underwater naturally anyway and one day nature will have it’s way no matter how stupid people are. 60 billion dollars to rebuild an area in direct line to a storm surge? Pure stupidity. My heart goes out to those who were affected by this storm; my son lost his home in the Highlands so I know what it feels like, but he’s got a brain. He isn’t rebuilding. He is relocating. We need to respect the land and the natural resources. If we would do this we could avert all this damage and all the costs associated with it.

  • Ray in VT

    More food for thought:

    NOAA, USGS: Climate change impacts to U.S. coasts threaten public health, safety and economy

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130125_coastalclimateimpacts.html

  • Kari Schwartz

    I was, frankly, incensed after hearing this show. What a
    biased show! There wasn’t one contrary voice to be heard,
    from the guests to the callers! Here’s the thing: if we’re
    to take seriously the view of those who don’t want to
    subsidize the Northeast after one costly hurricane, then ALL
    subsidization should be on the table. Let’s stop helping
    the folks in the West whose houses burn down regularly from
    wildfires, or the folks on the Mississippi who’ve been
    annually battling flood or drought for what seems like 30
    years. And let’s stop subsidizing the gun manufacturers and
    tobacco farmers who flood our northeastern cities with deadly
    firearms and cigarettes.

    End the support for the meat industry and their wasteful and
    totally unnecessary over-production of animals that clog our
    arteries and gas our atmosphere. For goodness’ sake, most
    scientists think cows and their flatulence are responsible
    for the majority of global warming!

    Let’s not stop there . . . I don’t want to pay one more
    lousy cent for rebuilding highways for people who live in
    small, inefficient cities, cities which disproportionally
    consume our gas and oil for their land-rich lifestyle, and
    stop subsidizing the oil companies which make this lifestyle
    possible.

    Have I made my point? If we keep pointing our hypocritical
    fingers at each other, this country’s going to be in big
    trouble very quickly. The problems of global-warming are
    geographically all-encompassing. If cost were to be the
    only determinant of rationality, the habitable portion of
    this country would be effectively reduced to the size of
    Mongolia. By the way, this could be easily accomplished by
    the cutting loose of the Deep South, which drains the
    economy and hasn’t given back a buck for a buck since the
    end of the Civil War. Yes, subsidizing wealthy people
    building castles on the beach is wrong and should be
    stopped. But pointing fingers at the rest of us is
    dangerous. YOUR area may be or become just as vulnerable in
    a couple of years.

  • Kari Schwartz

    Two years ago, I read an article by a great reporter named Christian Parenti (The Nation) about what the effects of global warning would be on this country.  He predicted then that the enormous disastrous effects of climate change, that were certain to take place, would have the effect of forcing people (and the govt.) to work together.  At the time, I thought he was a bit over-optimistic.  After listening to the show last night, and reading the listener comments, it’s obvious he was even more optimistic than I thought.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jdsullivan411 Jim Sullivan

    We are looking at this issue at the wrong end. As long as Congress continues to fund corporate entitlements to oil and gas companies who are responsible for creating global warming, then Congress has an obligation to pay for the damages. If we want to solve the problem of the changing coastline, then we must reverse global warming. We were warned this would happen. Now we are in the midst of it. But telling people they have to move is not the answer. The solution must go to the source of the problem – global warming. Cut back on emissions and invest in renewable energies – there’s the solution you should be talking about; not putting buildings up on stilts.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YU3T4DDXIPZET6WAIKB5YNZFIY John

    gao

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698145259 Nick Dimitrov

    I’m sorry but even if you rebuild it, it is going to be as good as it has been build before the catastrophic event… Next hurricane, you will have to rebuild again, as you build it the same way it was build to begin with. Carpenter is not a builder. Mason is builder. I wonder when, when will we start building single family homes so they can withstand stronger winds and fire? After every big storm we have to wait for days for electricity to “come back” I have seen electrical pools in mountainous villages in eastern Europe… but even there (unless it is too far and for very few) all the infrastructures are underground. That way even during/after a big storm electricity remains uninterrupted. And the family house remains for several generations in the family… It was just that well build.

    I’m sorry but a home is not a paper plate you can trow away when you are done eating. I don’t understand who allows such irresponsible city planning and building code. Some West European countries have a private fire fighting services. If you have fire the builder may end up paying for it, as the insurance company will go after him for not following the code. Therefore you will not see wood beams, unless they are temporary support while building. Let alone build a home out of wood. But hey, I always have to be reminded that I live in a Free country… You are a free man, do what you think is right. It is OK if the other don’t know better.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001416386458 Maribel R. Grosso

    do not rebuild on the shorline

  • Chai

    Serious conversation going on here, interesting stuff :)

  • Chai

    Interesting…

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