每日英語跟讀 Ep.783: As Climate Risks Rise, More Cities Tell Developers ‘No’
Glimpsed from a kayak on West Neck Creek, this swampy piece of land, a pocket of red maple and loblolly pine tucked behind growing subdivisions, does not look like the stuff of existential debate.
But this is where Virginia Beach, squeezed between the clamor for new housing and the relentlessness of flooding worsened by climate change, decided to draw its line in the mud.
The city last year became one of a small but growing number of communities willing to say no to developers — despite their political and economic clout — when it rejected a proposal to build a few dozen homes on this soggy parcel of 50 acres, arguing that those homes would be unsafe. The developers sued, accusing officials of making their project a scapegoat as voters clamored for action after disastrous flooding.
In May, a judge ruled that Virginia Beach was within its rights to stop the development. The city’s experience could become a harbinger for others nationwide.
“It’s a confrontation with reality,” Bobby Dyer, Virginia Beach’s mayor, said in an interview in his office. “Not everybody’s going to be happy.”
As the Trump administration reverses efforts to fight global warming, local officials around the country are forced to grapple with more intense flooding, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters. That pressure is colliding with development, which provides jobs, homes and taxes but which also can increase the future risk of disaster as construction spreads into floodplains or forests that are prone to calamity.
The outcome of that battle will shape Americans’ vulnerability to climate change for generations — and so far, development seems to be prevailing. In many coastal states, homes are going up at the fastest rate in the most flood-prone areas. The number of new houses in what experts call the wildland-urban interface, where the wildfire threat tends to be greatest, increased 41% nationwide between 1990 and 2010.
But as the financial and emotional costs of disasters increase, so does the evidence of a shifting mindset.
The Pew Charitable Trusts, a research and advocacy group, released a report describing how a few cities and states have successfully reduced flooding vulnerability. Their actions are “a recipe for success” for others, said Laura Lightbody, director of Pew’s flood-prepared communities initiative.
The examples include Norfolk, Virginia, which last year imposed new rules on developers, including a requirement that every new home be elevated.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/347894/web/