The following addresses three questions:
What is the problem?
What is the solution?
How do we get there?
THE PROBLEM: VULNERABILITIES
When we depend on regional systems for our power and water; when we count on regional distribution for our food supply, and when we expect large waste management networks to remove our garbage and waste, we are vulnerable: if and when these systems are disturbed or interrupted, life becomes very hard. When certain essential services and goods are located far away and the access to them becomes difficult or impossible due to road closures and infrastructure damage, isolation becomes fatal.
THE SOLUTION: RESILIENCE
If we did have localized water and energy sources, say at household, block, and neighborhood scales, nested within the larger systems, if we had localized food production and waste management, then we could live through interruptions and disasters relatively easier. If we had the essential services in the near vicinity and if certain essential goods were produced nearby, then survival could be possible in spite of the interruptions in regional access routes. Thus, localization of the sustenance systems and diversification of local services and businesses are the primary objectives in addressing our vulnerabilities and achieving resilience.
THIS IS HOW WE GET THERE:
ADAPTATION ENABLING ACT
Mandates, encourages, or advises the creation of “receiving zones” within the comprehensive plans. “Receiving zones” are relatively safer zones to which the following four policies shall be applied in order to create resilience.
Policy 1: Zoning reform
Purpose: To enhance financial resilience of the average household
To create productive ownership opportunities
To diversify neighborhood service businesses and production in the vicinity
Permit multiple families and unrelated people to live in the same structure.
Permit multiple dwellings (either attached or detached) on a lot.
Permit “cottage industry and retail” and “cottage farming” everywhere within the receiving zone.
Permit rentals everywhere within the receiving zone.
Policy 2: Preferential Tax Program for Businesses (Opportunity zones)
Purpose: To diversify production of essential goods and services in the vicinity
To create strong and healthy local economies
Establish opportunity zones within the receiving zones. These may be selected central areas or the entire receiving zone depending on the context and size of the receiving zone.
Policy 3: Tax deduction of rent
Purpose: To enhance financial resilience of the average household (by providing the owners the opportunity to receive rent)
To diversify neighborhood service businesses by providing affordable rental options for the potential employees
Establish a tax deduction program for renting when the following two conditions are met: (1) the landlord lives on the same lot (or close-by), (2) the primary breadwinner of the renting household lives close to his or her work.
Policy 4: Subsidize localized infrastructure
Purpose: To localize sustenance systems (energy, water, and waste) and increase resilience
Use some of the disaster recovery, hazard mitigation, and infrastructure budget proactively:
to create block and neighborhood scale energy production (that nests within larger network)
to create block and neighborhood scale water depositories
to divide large sewage and waste networks into smaller ones at local scale and to create local systems for each new development
These policies are easy to implement, relatively inexpensive, yet they are effective in addressing a very important problem.