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Fifty Shades of Gray Infrastructure: Land Use & the Failure to Create Resilient Cities

56 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2017 Last revised: 16 Sep 2017

Jonathan D. Rosenbloom

Drake University Law School

Date Written: August 4, 2017

Abstract

Land use laws, such as comprehensive plans, site plan reviews, zoning, and building codes, greatly affect community resilience to climate change. One often-overlooked area of land use law that is essential to community resilience is the regulation of infrastructure on private property. These regulations set standards for developers’ construction of infrastructure in conjunction with millions of commercial and residential projects. Such infrastructure provides critical services, including potable water and energy distribution. Throughout the fifty states, these land use laws regulating infrastructure on private property encourage or compel “gray infrastructure,” as part of private development. Marked by human-made, engineered solutions, including pipes, culverts, and detention basins, gray infrastructure reflects a desire to control and manipulate ecosystems. Often these ecosystems are already providing critical services. This article assesses how current land use laws focus too heavily on engineered, gray infrastructure and how that infrastructure is reducing community resilience to change. By creatively combining human engineered solutions with ecosystem services already available and by incorporating adaptive governance into the regulation of infrastructure for private development, the article describes how land use laws can enhance community resilience. The article concludes with several examples where land use laws are relied upon to help build cost-effective, adaptive infrastructure to create more resilient communities.

Keywords: Land Use, Climate Change, Ecosystems, Ecosystem Services, Adaptation, Adaptive Governance, Infrastructure

Suggested Citation

Rosenbloom, Jonathan D., Fifty Shades of Gray Infrastructure: Land Use & the Failure to Create Resilient Cities (August 4, 2017). Washington Law Review, Vol. 91, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3013831

Jonathan D. Rosenbloom (Contact Author)

Drake University Law School ( email )

27th & Carpenter Sts.
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

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