Jared Enriquez 4.22.19 - DCRP Lecture

Returning to Nature: Flood Buyouts as a Climate Adaptation Strategy

Many scientists and policymakers believe that large-scale residential relocation is necessary to adapt to the complex challenges of flooding and climate change. In New York State, local governments rely on federal buyout policies to fund and implement flooding-based relocations. This lecture discusses how cities utilize federal flood buyout policies to territorialize climate adaptation in an era of widening economic marginalization and local autonomy for disaster recovery. Drawing from field work completed for my dissertation, including interviews with planners, spatial data, and a review of policy documents, I argue that hazard mitigation and fiscal divestment drive decisions for retreat. The small-scale of pilot communities for which retreat has already began suggests that the scale in which buyouts are pursued would be insufficient to provide a substantive buffer from severe weather events for urbanized regions. I conclude with recommendations on ways that local planners can expand the reach of property acquisitions as a method of climate resilience for neighborhoods seeking retreat.

Jared Enriquez is fourth-year PhD candidate in City & Regional Planning at Cornell University. Jared’s research centers on water policy, environmental management, and community development. His dissertation examines how flood buyout programs in New York State have emerged and function as a municipal tool for post-disaster recovery and ecological restoration. This project aims to assist practitioners in managing environmental change and finding housing solutions for those impacted or displaced by flood events. After Cornell, Jared hopes to become an assistant professor whose research will continue to assess the equity implications of environmental policies and the diversification of climate adaptation actors.