Climate Resiliency

City Planning is working with communities throughout the floodplain to identify zoning and land use strategies to reduce flood risks and support the city’s vitality and resiliency through long-term adaptive planning. We are currently seeking input on a future update to the special zoning regulations that apply in the floodplain citywide and want to hear from those affected on how we can remove regulatory barriers to resiliency investments and make neighborhoods more resilient. We invite you to watch our short video and learn more about this work and how get involved.

Overview

After Sandy, City Planning created Flood Resilience Zoning to allow for recovery, promote rebuilding, and increase the city’s resilience to climate-related events, including coastal flooding and storm surge. The PDF Document Text Amendment was adopted in 2013 on a temporary, emergency basis. This zoning text amendment was designed to allow property owners to retrofit, or reconstruct, buildings in order to better protect them from future floods. In addition, the rules require buildings to meet practical design standards to promote vibrant retail corridors and high-quality housing.

City Planning is currently working with community members and property owners across the city’s floodplain to update the Flood Resilience Zoning rules through a future citywide zoning text amendment. Learn more and get involved in this process.

The effort to update the zoning text is also informed by DCP’s initiatives in specific neighborhoods – in residential, commercial and manufacturing areas – throughout the city’s floodplain to tailor strategies to the needs and opportunities of the area. Since 2013, extensive community engagement through various climate resiliency initiatives has helped inform some of the ways that zoning might be improved. This work is part of the City’s #OneNYC plan to make our neighborhoods, economy, and public services ready to withstand and to emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change.

Summary of resiliency initiatives

Initiative

Description and Status

Flood Resilience Zoning

Temporary Zoning Text Amendment to accommodate FEMA’s construction requirements for the floodplain and encourage flood-resilient building construction. Approved on October 9, 2013. See also: Flood Resilience Zoning Update

Special Regulations for Neighborhood Recovery

Temporary Zoning Text Amendment to accelerate post-Hurricane Sandy recovery in targeted Neighborhood Recovery Areas. Approved on July 23, 2015.

Resilient Neighborhoods Studies

Studies of 10 neighborhoods to identify locally-specific and Citywide resiliency strategies, including zoning recommendations. Reports released in 2016 and 2017.

Resilient Retail Study and Resilient Art Spaces

Studies of a range of retail corridors and art-related businesses to identify building-scale resiliency strategies, and provide zoning recommendations. Reports released in 2015 and 2016.

Resilient Industry Study

Study of a broad spectrum of industrial businesses to identify strategies that can reduce vulnerability to flooding. Report forthcoming in fall 2017.

Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel Special Coastal Risk District and Rezoning

Zoning Text and Map Amendments to limit future development in two areas highly vulnerable to sea level rise. Approved on June 21, 2017.

East Shore Buyout Areas Special Coastal Risk District and Rezoning

Zoning Text and Map Amendments to limit future development and to ensure consistency with open space plans. Approved on September 7, 2017.

Flood Resilience Zoning Update

Ongoing effort to make the current zoning rules permanent, in order to facilitate recovery from future storms, and promote the long-term planning for the city’s floodplain. This process will incorporate improvements based on lessons learned from the rebuilding process, DCP’s climate resiliency work, and community input.

What is New York City’s flood risk?

New York City’s 1% annual chance floodplain is vast—71,500 buildings and 400,000 residents—and also presents incredible disparities in the level of exposure to flood hazards from one area to another. Hurricanes, tropical storms, nor’easters, intense rain storms, and even extreme high tides are the primary causes of flooding in NYC.

Projections for climate change and sea level rise indicate that flooding from coastal storm surges, intense rain events, and high tide will get worse over time. Sea level rise will lead to frequent, sometimes daily, tidal inundation in some low-lying areas and has significant long-term impacts that are difficult and costly to mitigate. By the 2050s, the number of people living in the 1% annual chance floodplain could more than double to 808,900.

demo
NYC Flood Hazard Mapper
Note: tool works best with Google Chrome

Learn more about flood risk and how it impacts building design and insurance.

The NYC Flood Hazard Mapper, a web-based mapping tool that provides a comprehensive overview of the coastal flood hazards that threaten the city today, as well as how these flood hazards are likely to increase in the future with climate change.

For more personalized information on flood risk and flood insurance rates, visit Flood Help NY. This website also connects homeowners with engineers in select coastal communities to provide resiliency audits to identify ways to reduce risk to future floods and lower insurance rates.

What does zoning have to do with flood risk?

Examples of zoning changes from the 2013 Flood Resilience Text Amendment.
Examples of zoning changes from the 2013 Flood Resilience Text Amendment.
PDF Document View a larger image.

DCP has been working to ensure that zoning, which controls the size and use of buildings, doesn’t impose requirements that make it harder to comply with flood resilient construction standards in the Building Code. These changes allow buildings to be designed to be more resilient to future floods and receive lower flood insurance premiums. Initial zoning changes were enacted immediately after Hurricane Sandy on a temporary, emergency basis, and work is now underway to make the rules permanent, and to incorporate improvements. Learn more and get involved in this process.

Flood resilient zoning can:

  • Reduce flood risk by removing zoning barriers to incorporating resiliency measures in existing and new buildings.
  • Promote resilient, vibrant neighborhoods through practical design elements to limit negative impacts of elevated homes, such as porches, stair turns, and plantings, and incentives for commercial and mixed-use buildings for street-level access and transparent facades.
  • Plan for adaptation over time as climate change expands the floodplain, and thereby the number of buildings affected, in the future and causes daily tidal flooding in some areas

For more information visit the website on Flood Resilience Zoning or download our PDF Document two-page summary.

Our work is informed by detailed research and engagement with residents and businesses in a number of different neighborhoods in the floodplain. This includes our ten study areas as part of the Resilient Neighborhood initiative. The goal of this initiative is to identify neighborhood-specific strategies, including zoning and land use changes, to support the vitality and resiliency of communities in the floodplain and prepare them for future storms.

Resilient Neighborhoods Studies

City Planning has worked over the past several years to provide resources that guide development in the floodplain and inform coastal resilience policy. These resources are intended for homeowners, business owners, architects, or anyone seeking guidance on flood resilient construction. Information on related climate resiliency topics can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Info Briefs: are intended to provide a wealth of information on each respective topic and are available in pdf PDF Document format.


Resilient Retail

The Resilient Retail report identifies strategies that business and property owners can employ in making their spaces more resilient, as well as zoning tools and federal regulatory reforms that may be needed to assist them in their resiliency efforts.

Retrofitting Buildings for Flood Risk

Retrofitting Buildings for Flood Risk is a comprehensive guide on retrofitting buildings for New Yorkers living in the floodplain. The report is designed to shed light on retrofitting strategies that will enable home and property owners to reduce the risk of damage and disruption from coastal flooding.

Resilient Art Spaces

The PDF Document Resilient Art Spaces guide provides guidance and resources for a spectrum of arts-related businesses in the floodplain to plan for, mitigate, and recover from storm surge and flooding. The guide was developed out of the Agency’s Resilient Neighborhood study in West Chelsea.

Designing for Flood Risks

The Designing for Flood Risk report identifies key urban design principles, and recommendations for how zoning can incorporate these principles, to guide new construction of buildings in flood zones that adheres to flood protection standards without detracting from the quality of the pedestrian experience and neighborhood character.

Urban Waterfront

The Urban Waterfront Adaptive Strategies report serves as a resource and reference guide for a wide range of audiences to help identify the range of adaptive strategies that can increase the resilience of urban coastal areas and establish a framework by which communities can understand the costs and benefits, and evaluate the suitability, of each strategy.

New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program

The New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP) establishes the City’s policies for development and use of the waterfront. The recent revision to this program, adopted by the City Council in 2013 and approved by the State and Federal governments in 2016, will require the consideration of climate change in project planning and design, among other updates.