Mapping Coastal Risks and Social Vulnerability: Current Tools and Legal Risks

North Carolina Sea Grant, Spring 2015

33 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2015

See all articles by Lisa Schiavinato

Lisa Schiavinato

North Carolina State University - North Carolina Sea Grant

Heather Payne

Seton Hall University - School of Law

Date Written: April 27, 2015

Abstract

Extreme weather events and nuisance flooding are increasing, with communities already experiencing impacts. Both the identification of local hazards and the assessment of local vulnerabilities can protect people, their property, and their livelihoods. This paper provides an overview for local governments of the social vulnerability data sets that are currently available, how social vulnerability is currently being used and could be used, and what legal risks might be associated with utilizing it. A typical factor used to determine social vulnerability is race or ethnicity. The use of race specifically raises legal concerns, primarily based on the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. In this paper, we discuss the equal protection analysis framework and the potential legal challenges associated with using race as a factor in in making decisions based on maps or other decision-support tools that include social vulnerability criteria. However, these tools can be used to help local governments ensure critical functions and services.

Keywords: local government, social vulnerability, vulnerability mapping

JEL Classification: D63, J18, K32

Suggested Citation

Schiavinato, Lisa and Payne, Heather, Mapping Coastal Risks and Social Vulnerability: Current Tools and Legal Risks (April 27, 2015). North Carolina Sea Grant, Spring 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2599779

Lisa Schiavinato

North Carolina State University - North Carolina Sea Grant ( email )

1575 Varsity Drive
Varsity Research Building, Module 1
Raleigh, NC 27695-8605
United States

Heather Payne (Contact Author)

Seton Hall University - School of Law ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States

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