High and Dry on the Waterfront

Zoning Practice — November 2013

By James Schwab, FAICP


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Hurricane Sandy damaged or destroyed nearly 650,000 homes in an arc ranging from Rhode Island to Maryland. It also killed 147 people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

In New York City alone, 218,000 residents live within currently mapped floodplains. The city's study of its urban design options, Designing for Flood Risk, notes that 98 percent of the buildings destroyed by Sandy, and 94 percent of those severely structurally damaged, were built before 1983.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how coastal communities, such as New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, are reforming development regulations to maintain the attractions of the urban shoreline while adequately protecting those areas from coastal storms and flooding.


Page Count
Date Published
Nov. 1, 2013
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American Planning Association

About the Author

James Schwab, FAICP
Jim Schwab earned MAs in Urban and Regional Planning and Journalism from the University of Iowa. From 1985-1990, he was assistant editor of Planning, then moved to the APA Research Department as senior research associate. From 2007-2017, he served as manager of the APA Hazards Planning Center. Since leaving APA on May 31, 2017, he has been principal of Jim Schwab Consulting LLC, as well as an author, speaker, and continuing his role since 2008 as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. He is an accomplished author and has been responsible in whole or in part for 11 different PAS Reports. In 2016, in recognition of his "pivotal role" in helping create the new subfield of hazards planning, he was inducted into FAICP. Two years later, the Association of State Floodplain Managers awarded him its highest honor, the Goddard-White Award, in recognizing his national impact on the field of floodplain management. He is currently immediate past chair of the Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division and leading an effort to create a documentary film about the role of planning in helping communities address natural disasters and climate change.