November 2017
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Community Risk and Resiliency Act

Superstorm Sandy brought a level of disruption that many in our region have never experienced. Vulnerabilities in commercial, residential, transport and utility structures were revealed. Even more importantly, social capital and community cohesion were found to be strong in some areas, but less so in others.

From Sandy, a new awareness of planning for resiliency has started to take hold in the region: architects and, designers and planners have incorporated resilience as they plan, design and develop structures, and community groups have created emergency preparedness trainings and long term recovery planning groups. And, nearly everyone now sees the value of social capital: from knowing your neighbors, to creating networks where members of a community can rely on each other in the face of a disaster.

While these broad undercurrents are changing our thinking, it is critical to look at ways policy and legislation can have a broader impact on the region. MAS has been on the forefront of this thinking. We’ve fought for zoning that seeks to enhance the city’s livability: preserving the qualities that make New York City a vibrant place to live, work and play. When Sandy hit, MAS rapidly responded with a series of multi-stakeholder discussions and launched a monthly roundtable for resilience practitioners. We’ve been a key part of Rebuild by Design, developing innovative solutions to rebuild our region in new, stronger ways. We’re also equipping communities themselves with the capability of building their own resiliency from the ground-up: incorporating resiliency into our Livable Neighborhoods Trainings and delivering Community Resilience Trainings.

nature conservancy largeGrassroots planning works best when coupled with planning on a wider, regional scale. Knowing that, our partner, the Nature Conservancy, is advocating for Community Disaster Risk Reduction legislation. This would require state-funded projects and permits to consider risk analysis data before construction begins. Sea levels are rising – we cannot stop them, as we found out clearly this week with the discovery that Antarctic glaciers are irreversibly collapsing. It’s time to require that all state-permitted and funded development, not just rebuilding efforts after a catastrophic storm, take into account our word’s changing climate. We simply can’t continue building with ‘business as usual’ – we have to plan for the world we’ll have tomorrow. Your voice is critical in making this effort happen. Contact your state Senator and ask them to pass the “Community Risk and Resiliency Act” A. 6558 (Sweeney) / S. 6617 (Savino).

The proposal bill and associated actions of the New York State Assembly are available online here.