Smart Developments in Dangerous Locations: A Reality Check of Existing New Urbanist Developments

March 2009 (VOL. 27, NO. 1)

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Since its inception in the mid-1980s, New Urbanist developments have been rapidly expanding. In this article, we examine the extent to which New Urbanist developments are exposed to flood hazards, demonstrate the hazard mitigation measures taken by New Urbanist developments, and compare New Urbanist and conventional developments in incorporating hazard mitigation measures. We find that New Urbanist developments are vulnerable to floods throughout the U.S. and a substantial number (36%) of New Urbanist developments are exposed to hazards. Furthermore, we show that New Urbanist projects use more mitigation measures overall than conventional developments, but these additional techniques focus on reducing structural vulnerability, which offers less security than site designs that avoid development in floodplains. Finally, we offer our suggestions on how New Urbanism movement can lead the efforts in building communities that are resilient to natural hazards.