More people than ever want to live on the wild edges of Western cities, despite the risk wildfires pose to their homes. A recent study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, found that wildfires drive down real estate prices only in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Home prices in burned areas typically rebound to pre-fire levels within one to two years.
Yet developers will continue to build in high-risk areas as long as there’s a demand. Residential growth in forested areas across the United States has exploded in recent years, from an estimated 12.5 million housing units in 2000 to 44 million by 2010. “We should be worried about that,” said University of Nevada, Las Vegas, research economist Shawn McCoy, who led the study. “The societal costs of wildfire will increase, because people continue to develop there. They know that those homes will sell regardless of the risk.”
The researchers found that the value of homes within sight of burn scars did dip after a fire and was slower to rebound. But even there, homebuyers’ awareness of fire risk didn’t impact their willingness to invest in those properties. Overall, housing values in the high-risk zones dropped in the year following a wildfire, but rebounded to pre-fire prices in one to two years.
….wildfire suppression accounts for 52 percent of the Forest Service’s budget; by 2021, it’s projected to increase to 67 percent….
A very interesting project to track. Conversion of an industrial waterfront into a modern office park with exceptional architects/planners and a developer with a vision.
Aerial view of the Kearny Point site. Image via STUDIOS Architecture (Architecture) in collaboration with WXY architecture + urban design (Master Planning).
Kearny Point, which is located cross the Hudson River in Kearny between Newark and Jersey City, is being positioned as a sustainable business campus. The developer, Hugo Neu, is renovating and redesigning spaces that were once dedicated to one of the most well-known and most active shipbuilding sites, which opened in 1917 in the months leading up to the entrance of the United States in the first World War…..The developers have since renovated a first building, Building 78, that serves as Kearny Point’s proof of concept. It currently houses 150 small businesses, of which over 70% of which are minority or women-owned, a co-working space called Kearny Works, a cafe and a blue roof. The site also houses various companies, including a vertical farm, a bridal design company, a vitamin company, and much more.
A master plan has been developed by WXY, the architecture and urban design firm behind projects like the Spring Street Salt Shed and DSNY Manhattan District Garage, the Sea Glass Carousel in Battery Park, the redesign of Astor Place, and the reconstruction of the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk. At Kearny Point, WXY has envisioned a comprehensive plan that will densify the site, add public open space, offer new waterfront access, restore native habitat, and protect the site from flooding.
$1 billion is planned to be invested over the next decade, contributing to 7000 new permanent jobs and new tax revenue for the state and local jurisdiction. There will be three million square feet of converted or new office space. In addition, 15 acres of restored shoreline will accompany a new 4,100 foot waterfront promenade and 10 acres of publicly accessible civic and open space, including a 20,000 square foot amphitheater. It is anticipated that the waterfront area around the south basin and Building 197 will be completed this year, with another large portion of the historic yard anticipated to be completed between 2017 and 2018. A second waterfront phase is projected to be completed by 2023.
Cape Coral may be the best place to gauge the future of the dream—and to see whether Florida has any hope of overcoming its zany developmental, political and environmental history—because Cape Coral is the ultimate microcosm of Florida. It’s literally a peninsula jutting off the peninsula, the least natural, worst-planned, craziest-growing piece of an unnatural, badly planned, crazy-growing state. Man has sculpted it into an almost comically artificial landscape, with a Seven Islands section featuring seven perfectly rectangular islands and an Eight Lakes neighborhood featuring eight perfectly square lakes. And while much of Florida now yo-yos between routine droughts and routine floods, Cape Coral’s fluctuations are particularly wild. This spring, the city faced a water shortage so dire that its fire department feared it couldn’t rely on its hydrants, yet this summer, the city endured a record-breaking flood. And that “50-year rain event” came two weeks before Irma, which was also supposedly a 50-year event.
“‘Conquering’ nature has long been the western way,” writes Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki. “Our hubris, and often our religious ideologies, have led us to believe we are above nature and have a right to subdue and control it. We let our technical abilities get ahead of our wisdom. We’re learning now that working with nature—understanding that we are part of it—is more cost-effective and efficient in the long run.”
At a secret location in the rolling pasture of west Devon lies a marshy patch of farmland protected by £35,000-worth of solar-powered electric fencing. This isn’t to keep people out but to restrain the tree-chomping, river-damming residents of these three hectares. Outside the fence is a typical small valley, with a trickle of a stream, willow thickets and pasture grazed by cattle. Inside the enclosure, the tiny stream has been blocked by 13 dams, creating pools and half-metre-wide canals. These have been built by Britain’s newest wild mammal, the beaver, which uses its waterways like we do – to transport goods. And as the beavers have coppiced trees, the willow thicket has been replaced with sunny glades of wild flowers – marsh thistles, watermint, meadowsweet – which dance with dragonflies and butterflies.
Even a single urban tree can help moderate wind speeds and keep pedestrians comfortable as they walk down the street, according to a new University of British Columbia study that also found losing a single tree can increase wind pressure on nearby buildings and drive up heating costs.
Ties in with The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (definitely worth reading) where he discusses how trees in a forest create their own micro-climate and provide each other with physical support against wind and storms. But also read where he discusses the plight of urban trees forced to live without the forest community that they evolved for.