Redefining National Hazard Policy in the Climate Crisis

In the span of only 13 months, two of the most destructive wildfires in the state’s history tore through California. Thousands of homes were destroyed. 130 lives were lost. Entire neighborhoods are still attempting to recover.

Planner Pete Parkinson, AICP, is one resident left picking up the pieces. A lifelong planner and planning director, Parkinson recognizes the firestorm that hit his neighborhood as the lesson it is — climate change has redefined “disaster.”

While protective measures like evacuation plans, defensible spaces, and shelters are essential, they are no longer enough to protect communities during a disaster. As experts in creating safe and resilient communities, planners must reevaluate the way we apply hazard mitigation, adaptation, and recovery thinking to wildfires, flooding, and every disaster in between.

APA and its chapters and divisions have long supported policies that aim to improve how communities plan for risks with an eye toward strengthening overall community preparedness, resilience, and sustainability.

The revised draft Hazard Mitigation Policy Guide — which is now open for member review and comment — offers planners new policy recommendations that build on current best practices and established research for resiliency standards, man-made disasters, and natural disasters.

Applying an equity lens to the previously adopted policies was one of the most significant revisions to the current guide. As the effects of climate change worsen, it is incumbent upon planners to champion national policies that protect those disadvantaged communities who feel the impacts of disasters more deeply than others.

Weigh in on the guide

We need your help updating the Hazard Mitigation Policy Guide to ensure that equitable and proactive policy recommendations are effectively captured. It’s these policies that will guide our advocacy on resilience moving forward.

Read, review, and comment on the draft guide by March 10.

Your comments will be shared with the Legislative and Policy Committee, who will use them to prepare the final version of the guide that will go before the Delegate Assembly for adoption at NPC20.

Top image: The Woolsey Fire in California. Getty Images/iStock photo.

About the Author
Brenna Donegan is APA's communications associate.

February 28, 2020

By Brenna Donegan