Facing Challenges of Sea Level Rise

NPC17 attendee
APA member
List Price
Group viewing

Certification Maintenance

CM | 1.25

You'll learn about:

  • Learn about the ways in which other planners are dealing with sea level rise in their communities.
  • Learn about data, tools, and other resources planners are using to effectively plan for sea level rise. 
  • Learn about integrating sea level rise planning into the planning process.

Planning for sea level rise is one of the most difficult challenges planners are facing today. While the profession has long accepted that sea level rise is happening, the intractable questions of “how much” and “how soon” have plagued the decision-making process. Existing data tends to focus on broad impacts and general estimates for rise over large swaths of shoreline. Generally, this information is not nearly fine enough for community planners facing skeptical citizens and elected officials. Yet the uncertainty of local sea level rise impacts should not supersede the general facts that sea level is rising, often more quickly than predicted, that communities are grappling with its very real impacts, and that it is expected to continue well into the future.

This facilitated discussion will encourage the open exchange of ideas among planners on how to deal with the local impacts of sea level rise. What zoning tools are planners using? What sort of data is needed?  How do you plan for expensive infrastructure in the midst of such uncertainty? This session seeks to develop answers to these questions and more by tapping the practical experiences of planners dealing with the messy reality of sea level rise today.

Product Details

About the Speakers

James Schwab
Mr. Schwab joined the American Planning Association in November 1985. Originally the assistant editor of Planning, APA's monthly magazine, he joined APA’s research department in August 1990. He serves as the co-editor of a monthly publication, Zoning Practice. He is the Manager of APA’s Hazards Planning Center in the Chicago office. Mr. Schwab is currently managing two FEMA-funded projects for the Hazards Planning Center. One is the Planning Information Exchange, a series of peer-exchange webinars on hazard mitigation planning, which involves the Association of State Floodplain Managers as a partner organization. The second began in October 2015, Innovations in Planning and Public Engagement for Local Resilience, and involves University of California-San Diego, Placeways LLC, and National Charrette Institute as partners. He is also currently involved in two NOAA-funded projects. One is nationally focused with the Association of State Floodplain Managers as the lead partner; it aims to help communities incorporate climate data into capital improvements planning. The other is led by APA, with Jim as the project manager, and is focused on the Great Lakes, with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the University of Illinois as partners; its purpose is to work with pilot communities in metropolitan Chicago on incorporating climate data into comprehensive plans and capital improvements programs. Both started in 2016. Mr. Schwab was the project manager for “Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation,” an ambitious effort funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to completely rewrite Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Redevelopment (1998), which APA produced under a cooperative agreement with FEMA. This effort included substantial multimedia web tools including the Recovery News blog and a series of briefing papers. Mr. Schwab was also project manager and general editor for the FEMA-funded APA Planning Advisory Report, Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning, released in May 2010. He was the general editor and project manager for Planning for Drought, a PAS Report released in January 2014 and produced under a subcontract with the University of Nebraska’s National Drought Mitigation Center. Under an APA subcontract with the Association of State Floodplain Managers, he has also been involved in a project providing training and online resources to communities affected by Great Lakes coastal hazards. In 2016, APA also published Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas, a PAS Report project he led with ASFPM as the major partner. Mr. Schwab was the sole author of two PAS Reports in the 1990s, Industrial Performance Standards for a New Century and Planning and Zoning for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. He served as the project manager for a FEMA-supported project in which APA has developed training for planners on the planning provisions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, and for the Firewise Communities Post-Workshop Assessment. With Stuart Meck, he co-authored the 2005 PAS Report, Planning for Wildfires. He was also the principal investigator and primary author of Tribal Transportation Programs, produced for the Transportation Research Board. He was the project manager and general editor for the PAS Report, Planning the Urban Forest: Ecology, Economy, and Community Development, released in January 2009, and led the subsequent development of a training workshop based on that report, with a matching grant from the U.S. Forest Service. Finally, Mr. Schwab is APA’s lead representative for its partnership with NOAA’s Digital Coast. Mr. Schwab has worked overseas several times on hazard-related planning: in the Dominican Republic overseeing site planning training in 2001, in Sri Lanka following the Indian Ocean tsunami, speaking at a disaster recovery conference in Taiwan in 2006, as a Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Advanced Engineering in New Zealand in 2008, and speaking in May 2013 at a European Union conference on cities and climate change in Venice, Italy. Mr. Schwab is also the author of two books. The first, Raising Less Corn and More Hell: Midwestern Farmers Speak Out, was published in 1988 by the University of Illinois Press. It is an oral history of the farm crisis that affected the Midwest during the 1980s. The second, Deeper Shades of Green: The Rise of Blue-Collar and Minority Environmentalism in America, was released by Sierra Club Books in the fall of 1994. He is presently developing plans for a two-book series about the 1993 and 2008 Midwest floods.

Joseph DeAngelis
Joseph DeAngelis is a Research Associate with APA’s Hazards Planning Center specializing in storm recovery, resiliency, and climate adaptation planning. He received his planning degree from CUNY-Hunter College, where he researched post-Hurricane Sandy recovery and adaptation on the East Shore of Staten Island. Joe has worked for the New York City Mayor’s Office, the National Park Service, and until March 2016 as a Flood Resiliency Planner with the Staten Island office of the New York City Department of City Planning. While with DCP Joe worked on the Resilient Neighborhoods Initiative, a community planning program focused on long term land use, environmental, and economic resiliency in coastal neighborhoods in the five boroughs.