New York Considers Buying Up Flood-Prone Properties Damaged by Sandy
Ray Lehmann, public-affairs director with R-Street, a national think-tank, says the governor’s proposal is based on the National Flood Insurance Program’s own plan to repurchase frequently flooded properties, as outlined in the 2004 flood bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon.
“We certainly support the concept,” says Lehmann in an e-mail. “Subsidized flood insurance has, for decades, provided incentives to develop in flood-prone areas, with terrible consequences both for taxpayers and the environment.”
A key to the plan, Lehmann stresses, is that the land needs to be protected as wetlands or open space, never to be redeveloped.
He says there have been cases where “communities that accepted federal funds to buy out flooded properties come back several years later seeking to rededicate that land to future development.”
He goes on to say, “That ends up putting taxpayers doubly on the hook—they’ve already paid for the buyout, and could further have to pay for any future losses once the land is redeveloped.”