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Built Environment

The mission of this working group is to focus on discussions about the Built Environment.


Carrielaj Emi Kiyota Kathy Gilbeaux mdmcdonald MDMcDonald_me_com Mika Shimizu
Walter Meyer WDS1200-Columbus YANA SERVICES

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Failed Levee Near Taylor Bayou Could Compromise Portion of Jefferson County - Texas

A hole in the basin near Taylor Bayou created a shift in the dirt and the wall where the levee exists, County Judge Jeff Branick tells KFDM/KBTV. It is not clear what caused the hole. There is no timetable for repairs but workers are attempting a temporary fix. They were building a pad at the levee late Monday morning. There is also no official cost estimate of the fix. The levee is close to the Valero docks. (KFDM/KBTV photo) - by Angel San Juan and Brandon Scott - August 7, 2017

A failed levee near Taylor Bayou could compromise a portion of Jefferson County south of Beaumont - mainly Port Arthur and its surrounding refineries - if a tropical storm or hurricane hit the area, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In a news release dated Aug. 4, the Corps states it was notified by Jefferson County Drainage District-7 of a failure of a section of floodwall near Taylor Bayou last Tuesday morning.

A hole in the basin created a shift in the dirt and the wall where the levee exists, County Judge Jeff Branick tells KFDM/KBTV.

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Evaluating Investments in Community Resilience: New Guide Explains How

submitted by Albert Gomez - January 4, 2016

Communities weighing choices for capital improvement projects intended to improve their resilience to severe weather, wildfires, earthquakes, or other types of hazards now have a new guide to help them sort through the costs and benefits of each when deciding which investment is best for their particular circumstances.

Prepared by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) economists, the Community Resilience Economic Decision Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems details steps for evaluating the “economic ramifications” of contemplated resilience investments as well as the option of maintaining the status quo.



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Reject Proposal to Expand the UDB

submitted by Albert Gomez - by Julie Dick - December 14, 2015

Miami-Dade County leaders have a number of decisions to make in the coming days, months and years that will define how we prepare for a changing Miami. If unsustainable developments are approved and move forward — be it a landfill expansion, a highway running through the Everglades ecosystem or new commercial and industrial development in currently undeveloped low-lying areas — they will create future liabilities and sprawling urban areas that will require expensive, though not necessarily effective, flood control. This will put the region’s water resources at risk.

On Tuesday, the County Commission is scheduled to consider whether to approve an application from the Neighborhood Planning Company for an industrial and commercial development on more than 60 acres of agricultural land and wetlands outside of the Urban Development Boundary (UDB).

The development would sit entirely on top of the West Wellfield Protection Area, in which certain land uses and activities are regulated or prohibited to protect the potable water supply from contamination and to provide recharge of the aquifer. Industrial development on this site puts our drinking-water supply at risk. This proposal should not move forward.

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New Orleans Area's Upgraded Levees Not Enough for Next 'Katrina,' Engineers Say


The Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, which rises 26 feet above sea level, is designed to be overtopped by storm surges created by a hurricane with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year, the so-called 100-year storm, hits the area. The overtopping water will be stored in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. Larger storms will cause even more water to overtop the wall. - by Mark Schleifstein - August 18, 2015

The rebuilt New Orleans area hurricane levee system remains inadequate to protect the heart of the nation's 45th largest metropolitan area from another Hurricane Katrina or larger storm, nationally-known engineers and scientists said almost a decade after the 2005 storm.

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Structural Adaptivity, Before and After Thoughts


As a means of concluding these writings on Structural Adaptivity and Resilience, following are some of the background thoughts, with recent revision, that led me to my proposals. Originally, my writings were directed at city and regional planning. However now I realize they are also about resilience.  I hope my submittals will be helpful.  I will try to write more soon.


Time.  Planners, resilience makers, and all other leaders and professionals dealing with the built environment must focus on long time spans.  In order to have significant impact on the future of our world, we must recognize that only by looking at big chunks of history and big chunks of future time can we really see the reality of what is going on.  Likewise, we need to do so in order to see the reality of what needs to be done.


Typical urban or regional plans target a future some 20 years ahead.  Moreover, they typically are based on past trends of 20 years or so.  However, our world does not change in 20-year cycles.  Twenty years is a very short time period in the flow of transformation.


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Structural Adaptivity, Rebalancing by Watersheds - Part II

Here is the second part of my Rebalancing by Watersheds Exercise.  I presented the background work recently in my Part I post.  Part II contains a Concept Plan Map and a discussion of the more particular information and data that led me to the Plan. 


Both Parts I and Part II are only a condensed version of the full text I prepared.  Within the portions I left out for this version is a considerable amount of technical information that some readers may want to see.  I will provide more of it upon request. 


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Structural Adaptivity, Rebalancing by Watersheds - Part I


One of the applications of structural adaptivity that I have presented is re-balancing our nation by major watersheds.  The benefits would be two-fold:  (1) growing our nation into urban regions where each would have resilient economic and adaptivity capacities; and (2) tying the regions to ample sources of fresh water by linking them to regional U.S. watersheds.


Because it would be such a large departure from recent trends and because I could discover no literature showing its possibility or desirability, I sought to perform an exercise to demonstrate its possibility.  In doing this, I am setting aside my own considerable shortcomings.  I am assuming that criticism of my arrogance in attempting such an exercise is less important than taking a step in a much-needed new direction.


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Structural Adaptivity Facilitation Examples - Part III

Here are my last three Facilitation Examples, proposed activities by planners and others to influence the development of the built environment toward structural adaptivity and resilience as we progress into an ever more uncertain and unpredictable future. 


Rethinking Homeownership.  Conventional owner-occupied land and buildings in the US many times tie the owners into long-term tenures.  It makes moves, to other locations, overly cumbersome even when such moves are in the occupants’ best interests.  Adaptivity requires the ability to make quicker changes than in the past, including the self-initiated movement of people and businesses to other locations when beneficial.  Alternative types of ownership or tenure must be facilitated, types which are more adaptable to quick change.


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Some Examples of Structural Adaptivity - Part III


Here are 4 more examples of structural adaptivity for resilience.  As with the other examples presented previously, they only are intended to illustrate the concept of structural adaptivity for resilience.  They are intended to focus on the structure or structural elements of cities and/or regions.  Moreover, they are intended to demonstrate how such structural elements can be located, organized, or otherwise developed to have capacity to adapt to the continuing needs of the citizens - as the unknown and rapidly changing future unfolds.


Polycentric Urban Development.  Urban development need no longer be monocentric (having only one center).  In fact, such a pattern is not adaptive to meet the future.


Central business districts have traditionally been the home of government, financial institutions, offices, civic plazas and the like, as well as many commercial retail and services.  They have also often contained many churches, health care facilities, educational institutions, libraries, museums, convention centers, theatres, etc.


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Risk and Risk Underwriting

In writing about the importance of promoting private enterprise, as well as in many other sections of my work, I suggested an almost near certainty that the risk management industry eventually will facilitate resilience and structural adaptivity in our built environment.  In my larger draft, I included a short section about this, which I am posting below (somewhat revised).  I believe it is beneficial to share this section now in order to explain my optimism for resilience. (I also wrote short sections on Time, Rapid Change, Optimism, A Futurist Perspective, and The Human Factor but do not necessarily intend to post them here.)


The future will be all about risk and trying to find protection from the rapidly increasing threats to our world as we advance in population size, social/cultural/economic complexity, and cutting-edge science and technology.  Risk underwriting will play a big role in how well or how poorly we adapt to accelerating change. 


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