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Mitigation Planning Series: Mitigation Action Strategy Ideas to Address Coastal Hazards
Wynne Kwan, AICP, LEED AP, Senior Planner
Previous installments of the Mitigation Planning Series defined hazard mitigation, summarized how hazard mitigation plans (HMPs) fit into FEMA’s Risk MAP life cycle, and discussed how outreach/communications and mapping activities resulting from the Region IX’s coastal studies meet stakeholder/public involvement  and hazard profile HMP requirements. This installment will focus on the driving force of HMPs, the Mitigation Action Strategy, which provides a community with the basis for action that reduces risk to life and property, a vision of the Risk MAP program.
A community develops its Mitigation Action Strategy to examine and prioritize possible ways to avoid or minimize undesired effects.  The development of the Mitigation Action Strategy takes place once the community has a better understanding of the risks posed by hazards and the community’s capabilities to implement mitigation. The Mitigation Action Strategy includes mitigation goals and objectives, mitigation actions to meet those goals and objectives, and a strategy to implement those actions.
This Mitigation Planning Series installment will address the various types of mitigation actions accepted by FEMA and provide sample coastal hazard mitigation action ideas.  However, because mitigation goals/objectives and implementation strategy are important (and required for FEMA approval), these topics will be briefly discussed as well. 
Mitigation Goals and Objectives
Mitigation goals are general guidelines that explain what a community wants to achieve with implementation of the HMP. Objectives are statements that detail how those goals will be achieved.  Goals and objectives can be developed based on a review of hazard vulnerability/impact assessments, problem statements, and existing plans/policies for synergies and/or conflicts. Once the mitigation goals and objectives have been identified, a community will find it easier to develop mitigation actions that address them. 

Types of Mitigation Actions
A mitigation action/project means an action, activity, process, or physical project designed to reduce or eliminate the long-term risks from hazards. Four different types of mitigation actions have been identified in FEMA’s recently-released Mitigation Ideas: A Resource for Reducing Risk to Natural Hazards, as described below:
  • Local Planning and Regulations:  Government administrative or regulatory actions or processes that influence the way land and buildings are developed and built. 
  • Structure and Infrastructure Projects: Mitigation projects intended to lessen the impact of a hazard by using structures and infrastructure to modify the environment. This mitigation type also includes actions that involve the modification of existing buildings or structures to protect them from a hazard, or removal from the hazard area.
  • Natural Systems Protection:  Actions that, in addition to minimizing hazard losses also preserve or restore the functions of natural systems. 
  • Public Education and Awareness:  Actions to inform and educate citizens, elected officials, and property owners about the hazards and potential ways to mitigate them.
In the past, FEMA accepted emergency services actions as mitigation actions since they reduced the impacts of a hazard event on people and property during and after a disaster. However, as the focus of Risk MAP is on mitigating the effects of hazard events pre-disaster, actions that are emergency response or operational preparedness in nature are not considered mitigation and not accepted as mitigation actions by FEMA. 
Mitigation Action Ideas for Coastal Hazards
Region IX’s California Coastal Analysis and Mapping Project (CCAMP) Open Pacific Coast (OPC) and Bay Area Coastal (BAC) Studies will map the flooding hazards along the California coast and in the SF Bay. The information that follows provides some mitigation action ideas that communities can implement to address these coastal flooding hazards.   
Local Planning and Regulations
  • Management of Development in Hazard Areas through:
    • Adoption and enforcement of land use, zoning, and subdivision regulations
    • Establishment of zoning and overlay districts
    • Establishment of flood/erosion control easements
    • Minimization or prohibition of development or expansion
    • Development/implementation/maintenance of stormwater/erosion/coastal  management plans
  • Site and Building Codes and Design Standards
    • Adoption and enforcement of International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC)
    • Prohibition of first floor enclosures
    • Consideration of orientation in site development during design process
    • Implementation of V-zone construction requirements for new development in coastal A-zones
  • Participation in the National Flood Insurance Program and the Community Rating System


Structure and Infrastructure Projects

  • Relocation of existing buildings/infrastructure from hazard areas
  • Retrofitting and elevation of existing structures and utilities
  • Development and regular maintenance of flood/erosion control projects
  • Beach nourishment projects and other shoreline protection projects


Natural Systems Protection
  • Preservation of open space in high hazard areas through the following measures:
    • Development of land banking program
    • Development of open space plan targeting hazard areas
    • Transfers of development rights
  • Protection and restoration of natural resources
    • Protection/enhancement of landforms that serve as natural mitigation features (wetlands, dunes, etc.)
    • Prohibition of removal of natural vegetation from dunes and slopes
Although the CCAMP OPC and BAC Studies do not address erosion, sea level rise, and tsunamis, adapting to sea level rise and anticipating erosion and tsunami impacts should also be considered in developing mitigation actions to address coastal hazards.  Mitigation actions that address erosion, sea level rise,and tsunami hazards are very similar to those listed above.
Elements of the Implementation Strategy
Once mitigation actions have been identified, the HMP must include an implementation strategy.  An assessment of the community’s regulatory, administrative, and fiscal capabilities to carry out mitigation actions must be included in the HMP to address the community’s capacity for implementing actions in the short and long term. The implementation strategy is composed of the following elements and must be provided for each mitigation action identified in the HMP.
  • Responsible organization(s)
  • Funding Source(s)
  • Implementation timeframe
The elements noted above are the minimum requirements and communities are welcome and encouraged to include additional information in the implementation strategy. Identified mitigation actions also must be prioritized based on economic considerations (implementation costs vs. benefit) and other considerations the community feels appropriate. Other considerations may include social, technical, administrative, political, and environmental aspects. 
If there is a specific hazard mitigation planning topic you’d like the Mitigation Planning Series to address, please submit your suggestions to Wynne Kwan at
Online Resources
  1. Mitigation Ideas: A Resource for Reducing Risk to Natural Hazards (January 2013)”
  2. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
  3. NFIP Community Rating System (CRS)
  4. Building Science Resources
  5. State of New Jersey Manual for Coastal Hazard Mitigation
  6. Louisiana Coastal Hazard Mitigation Guidebook
  7. Coastal Construction Manual: Principles and Practices of Planning, Siting, Designing, Constructing, and Maintaining Residential Buildings in Coastal Areas
  8. California Department of Water Resources Statewide Flood Management Planning Program
  9. California’s Flood Future: Recommendations for Managing the State’s Flood Risk

 Coastal Beat Story Archive

collapse Year : 2012 ‎(7)
<a href=''>Risk Map Local</a>
<a href=''>FEMA Leverages LiDAR</a>
<a href=''>FEMA’s CCAMP Studies and Our Coast, Our Future</a>
<a href=''>Region IX to Conduct First Flood Risk Review Meeting for CCAMP</a>
collapse Year : 2013 ‎(19)
<a href=''>FEMA Partners with Oceanweather and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to Bring Modeling Expertise to CCAMP OPC Study</a>
<a href=''>FEMA Region IX Holds Meetings for the California Coastal Analysis and Mapping Project / Open Pacific Coast Study</a>
<a href=''>Primary Frontal Dune Coastal High Hazard Area Mapping Requirements</a>
<a href=''>FEMA Holds South Bay Workshop to Kick-off Detailed Analysis in the South Bay Counties</a>
<a href=''>Translating Coastal Flood Hazard Modeling Results into Floodplain Mapping</a>
<a href=''>Terrain Modeling in FEMA’s California Coastal Flood Studies</a>
<a href=''>Join FEMA’s Community Rating System Program Using California’s Statewide Floodplain Management Activities</a>
<a href=''>Coastal Flood Processes Along the California Coast</a>
<a href=''>FEMA’s Annual Risk Awareness Survey: Findings from Previous Surveys and the Focus for the 2013 Survey</a>
collapse Year : 2014 ‎(9)
<a href=''>E386 Residential Coastal Construction</a>
<a href=''>Engaging Stakeholders to Help Communicate Impacts of BW-12</a>
<a href=''></a>
<a href=''>California Coastal Storm History Part Two – Ventura County</a>
<a href=''>Redelineation: What does it mean for me?</a>
collapse Year : 2015 ‎(2)
<a href=''>FEMA increases community access to draft floodplain mapping data </a>
collapse Year : 2016 ‎(6)
<a href=''></a>
1 - 40Next

 Other Stories

expand Arizona
Educating Maricopa County on the Power of Water,
Discovery Process, Thursday, February 23, 2012
expand California
Discovery Process, Thursday, March 1, 2012
NFIP Substantial Improvement and Substantial Damage Course, Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Santa Barbara County and Incorporated Areas Countywide Flood Insurance Rate Map,
Join FEMA’s Community Rating System Program Using California’s Statewide Floodplain Management Activities,
expand Coastal Studies
Discovery Process, Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Betty the Prepared Dog, Saturday, April 28, 2012
expand Hawaii
Tsunami: Learning from Experience in Hawaii,
Public Outreach Meeting for FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map, Wednesday, August 8, 2012
expand Nevada
Clark County Flood Facts,
expand Region Wide
Be Prepared for a Flooding Event in your Community Today!,
Watershed University , Friday, June 1, 2012
Know Your Line: Be Flood Aware, Thursday, May 2, 2013
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