Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to buy up your Sandy damaged home and sell them over to land developers, according to a report by WNYC.
Following the lead of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who wants to spend $400 million to buy up Sandy homes at pre-Sandy values, Bloomberg wants a similar plan for the city. The difference is that under Cuomo’s plan, the land would be converted into parks, public spaces and wetlands, while Bloomberg wants to use the land to sell to real estate developers.
Brad Gair, the director of the city’s housing recovery testified at a City Council meeting as to why the mayor is pursuing this plan.
“These are valuable properties,” WNYC reported Gair saying at the meeting. “There is a limited amount of coastline properties.”
Criticism of the plan surrounds the economic risk the taxpayers incur should the redeveloped lands be flooded again:
James Fraser, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, says the requirement protects taxpayers from having to pay twice for the same property: to buy it out, and then again later, if it gets flooded.
“When a locality continues to develop in a flood plains, they are not only putting themselves at risk,” Fraser, who has researched FEMA buyouts, said. “They are putting the nation at risk because financially FEMA has to pay for future flooding.”
Mayor Bloomberg has suggested that modern construction methods, such as elevating homes above the 100-year-flood level, will make them sufficiently flood-proof for the future. Fraser says modern rebuilding helps, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem.
“You still have impervious surface and that impervious surface is going to contribute to the amount of flooding that’s experienced in the surrounding area,” he said.
For Bloomberg’s plan to go through, he’ll need permission from the federal government, which wants to ensure that buyouts are based on pre-storm values and that those selling are given adequate assistance to relocate.