Given the cross-jurisdictional impacts of sea-level rise, flooding, and land loss, states and local governments may contemplate regional approaches for managed retreat. The need for regional governance structures could be compounded by shifting populations and ecosystems that move from one jurisdiction to another. Notably, if people choose to leave vulnerable coastal areas, those municipalities may suffer losses to their tax bases. This will hinder municipalities’ ability to provide basic and essential services and make sustained investments in their communities (e.g., building and maintaining infrastructure, schools) more difficult. While larger urban municipalities may be able to absorb some or many of the costs associated with these tax transfers, these losses could exacerbate resource inequities in underserved smaller and frontline communities. Compartmentalized governmental structures could also contribute to the insufficient oversight of important shared coastal resources and public assets, which can lead to their deterioration or destruction. In addition, governments will have to meet the needs of “receiving” communities in different jurisdictions.
One potential solution to avoid or mitigate economic, environmental, and social impacts on individual municipalities would be to share the costs of sea-level rise, flooding, and erosion by distributing them across a greater number of people over a larger area.See footnote 1 Regional solutions could be more equitable in addition to better protecting migrating ecosystems and public beaches and coasts. To overcome these challenges, state and especially local governments can consider various approaches for regional governance including:
As climate change and coastal hazards increase in frequency and intensity, local governments and particularly smaller municipalities may have an increasing need to evaluate regional models for the purpose of administering or supporting either select or multiple government functions.
States may also consider developing inter-state regional approaches for retreat. In addition, states can provide different types of support for intra-state regional efforts at the local level, including through technical and funding assistance and amending existing or creating new laws to meet regional governance needs.
1. In contrast, some people might be against proposals to broadly distribute these costs. Some might perceive regional approaches as a subsidy to the owners of the most at-risk properties in a region. From an economics perspective, this is essentially allowing the most at-risk properties to externalize the costs of the owners of such properties to buy, develop, and live on those properties. This is contrary to the idea of promoting policies whereby those properties that are at the highest risk of flooding should bear all the costs that their higher risk places on not only the property but also on the community’s infrastructure and services generally. See, e.g., Thomas Ruppert & Alexander Stewart, Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Financing at the Local Level in Florida 3 (Oct. 2015), available at View Source (“Two varying approaches to protecting people and property from SLR and other coastal hazards present themselves. A local government can utilize funding streams that have no direct impact on the properties requiring protection. This arguably has the benefit of preserving the value of the property and spreading the cost around. Another school of thought, however, would suggest that the people and property most vulnerable to SLR and other coastal hazards should bear the bulk—if not all—the extra costs necessary to protect them. Those supporting this approach reason that those that choose to own property in the most vulnerable areas should not be able to push the costs of their choice onto property owners, citizens, or taxpayers that have made decisions to live in less vulnerable places. Some go so far as to argue that this is all about beaches and the rich people that live on the beaches. While in some places this may have an element of truth, it certainly is not the case in all communities. Many very low-lying areas subject to impacts from SLR are not full of wealthy people living in large, expensive homes."). | Back to contentBack to content