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JDR Vol.5 No.5 pp. 535-542
(2010)
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2010.p0535

Paper:

California’s Natural Hazard Zonation Policies for Land-Use Planning and Development

Charles R. Real

California Geological Survey, 801 K Street MS12-31, Sacramento, CA 95814-3531, USA

Received:
August 21, 2010
Accepted:
October 6, 2010
Published:
October 1, 2010
Keywords:
natural hazards, zonation, land-use, planning, mitigation
Abstract

California has established state-level policies that utilize knowledge of where natural hazards are more likely to occur to enhance the effectiveness of landuse planning as a tool for risk mitigation. These policies set minimum standards for local government, and range from State designation of regulatory natural hazard zones to requirements that cities and counties include a Safety Element in their General Plan that evaluates their exposure to earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and other natural hazards, and to prepare a federal Local Mitigation Plan to reduce the risk. Such requirements placed on local government are enforced by potential liability for losses for failure to act, and the potential ineligibility for disaster relief funds should a catastrophic event occur. Building codes have been the primary means of mitigating the impact of natural hazards, but continued growth into high-risk terrain and repetitive losses have focused attention to the merits of avoiding harm’s way by means of prudent land-use decisions. Restricting land use can be difficult under the pressures of growth and development. California code exploits knowledge that the cost to adequately protect public safety can influence the type of development that is feasible when considering occupancy (high/low density residential, manufacturing, parkland, etc.) and critical function, such as the need to maintain essential services (police, fire, hospitals, emergency operation centers, etc.). Experience in California demonstrates that a combination of education, outreach, and mutually supporting policies that are linked to state-designated natural hazard zones can form an effective framework for enhancing the role of land-use planning in reducing future losses from natural disasters.

Cite this article as:
Charles R. Real, “California’s Natural Hazard Zonation Policies for Land-Use Planning and Development,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.5, No.5, pp. 535-542, 2010.
Data files:
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