City Council approves bill to protect coastal communities from climate disasters

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The City Council passes climate resiliency design guidelines to further protect coastal communities from future storms. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

Coastal communities across Queens will be made safer and more protected against climate disasters under legislation recently approved by the City Council.

The Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines bill, sponsored by Councilman Costa Constantinides, requires that new city-funded buildings, infrastructure and retrofits are designed to withstand climate threats of the future.

“As a city on the sea, we are literally on the front lines of the fight to secure a livable climate,” Constantinides said. “That’s why it’s so critical that we set resiliency standards for everything we build in New York City. With the passage of Int. 2092, the city must create resiliency guidelines and a scoring metric for projects that sets a minimum standard for resiliency that every subsequent project must meet.”

The bill also establishes a transparency mechanism by mandating a resiliency score for each project, to be posted on a public-facing website. In the same way the city has established letter grades for building energy efficiency, this law creates an easier way for the city and members of the public to track resiliency to climate threats.

“Climate change is already negatively impacting the Rockaways on a regular basis. This is a much needed and overdue first step to ensure our buildings and infrastructure are designed to meet future threats,” Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability and Equity Senior Manager of Planning Judah Asmov said.

The first-of-its-kind bill, known as Intro 2092, prepares for the single most significant threat to the city, according to advocates.

“Hurricane Sandy and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, show a lack of preparedness for the climate crisis,” Waterfront Alliance President and CEO Cortney Worrall said. “Extreme storms, heat, and winds, among many other climate impacts, will change the longevity of infrastructure, impact how people live and get to work, and can determine if electricity and communication remain online during and after a storm. This bill can make communities safer and paves the way for a more comprehensive approach to climate risks in New York City and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Constantinides and four colleagues of the Queens City Council delegation received perfect scores from the New York League of Conservation Voters. Overall, 21 members of the City Council received perfect scores.

“We are excited that so many Council Members support the environment and have taken pro-environmental actions as part of our scorecard,” NYLCV President Julie Tighe said. “With the executive branch in Washington undermining years of environmental progress, it is more important than ever for local governments to fill that void. We will work with legislative leaders to enact policies to encourage the use of renewable energy, decrease emissions, and reduce waste – all top NYLCV priorities. Together, we are also fighting to protect public health, and our recreation and open space resources for generations to come.”

Other Queens council members that received perfect grades include Adrienne Adams, Barry Grodenchik, Jimmy Van Bramer and current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

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