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Sandy taught us region must change land use approach to survive p2

11/10/2013 | Real Estate Blog

Earlier this year, the Urban Land Institute assembled a panel of experts to look at how Philadelphia, New York City and New Jersey were doing with post-Hurricane Sandy recovery. The local ULI councils from the region asked for the help. They knew that the multiple plans and processes underway could be more synergistic and, perhaps, more efficient — even with the regional Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force in place.

They knew, too, that whatever the affected areas did, the result had to include the long-term goal of making sure we would be prepared for the next Sandy. Preparation would have to mean more than sandbags and flood walls, though: The region must be “resilient,” prepared to recover and to move forward. As ULI puts it, the region must be able to “bounce back and bounce forward.”

The final report is “After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-term Resilience and Adaptability,” and, as we noted in our Oct. 26 post, the report includes recommendations broken down into several categories. We thought we would start with the land use and development recommendations.

Perhaps the most important recommendation is that a city or county or even a state should not try to go it alone in this process. Planning on this scale must be done regionally, the ULI says, to maximize resources and, in our case, to maximize the protection of the coastal region.

If you have never seen a nighttime picture of this part of the Eastern Seaboard from space, you should do a quick Google search and take a look. It is a solid brushstroke of light, signaling to everyone that this is one of the most densely developed parts of the country. What you can’t see from space, though, is that there are pockets of low density tucked in there, just as there are urban areas ringed by suburbs and open farmland not too far from there.

The mix of land use patterns is certainly an asset, but it also creates some challenges. We’ll get into this more in our next post.

Sources:, “Report: Build differently for climate change,” Kellie Patrick Gates, Oct. 10, 2013

Urban Land Institute, “After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-term Resilience and Adaptability,” October 2013 at