Mapping Coastal Risks and Social Vulnerability: Current Tools and Legal Risks
North Carolina Sea Grant, Spring 2015
33 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 27, 2015
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: Suggested Citation