Climate Resilient Capital Task Force Bill to be Filed
2022-10-25 Business Update - Climate Resilient Capital Task Force Bill to be Filed
Douglas Quattrochi - Doug
Hi! My name is Doug Quattrochi. I’m the executive director of MassLandlords, and today’s business update is the first of a series about bills we’ll be filing in the 193rd Legislative Session.
The first of these is called the Climate Resilient Capital Task Force. This bill takes a long perspective. In particular, Massachusetts has been around for over 204 years. With our constitution, we have one of the if not the longest still functioning constitutions in the world, and Massachusetts today covers a whole range of territory from the Berkshires all the way down to Boston Harbor, Cape, and Islands.
This is particularly the focus of this bill here. Worcester is 480 feet elevation above sea level whereas Boston, the capital, is presently lots of places including this MassLandlords office where I’m filming today 9 feet above sea level, and we are fortunate not to have too many hurricanes here, but they do happen.
Last one 31 years ago, Hurricane Bob dumped 8 inches of rain on parts of New England, and the thing to understand with coastal flooding is rain comes down and then storm surge comes up like we saw only 10 years ago in Marblehead. Hurricane Sandy drove local flooding. When the rain can’t get out to the sea, and the storm surge is coming up, you get local flooding. As a matter of fact, this is the focus of the Climate Resilient Capital Task Force Bill. Hurricane Sandy storm surge in New York, October 10 years ago, was 14 feet, and we’ve got billions of dollars of Massachusetts real estate.
I don’t think people realize especially small condo owners that are most likely to get washed out, so to speak, and also we’ve got a lot of rental housing, and we’ve got a lot of people’s lives at risk below what we would expect to be the storm surge the next time there is a hurricane in Massachusetts.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has a storm surge viewer, which doesn’t even go up to level of Hurricane Sandy. It goes only up to 10 feet, and you can see even at 10 feet level, huge swaths of Cambridge and Back Bay are potentially inundated if we’re not responsive to this risk in advance.
It is not just NOAA or MassLandlords worried about this as well. There’s a nonprofit called First Street Foundation, which publishes its data at RedfinRealtor.com, and the numbers for some of these Back Bay properties are just astonishing: 98 percent chance of at least 12 inches of water in the next five years; 98 percent chance.
That’s why MassLandlords has drafted and will file the Climate Resilient Capital Task Force Act. It asks us to look long-term at our ability to manage climate change and resilience, and it asks us to look at whether we are actually going to win long-term in the fight against sea level rise.
The image I’d like to leave you with is it’s just one image designed to be provocative but not panic-inducing. If all the ice were to melt and we really didn’t stay on top of climate change, Massachusetts will be completely reshaped. The whole world will be different, obviously, but it’s not too late to fix things, and what we really want to do is we want to let our legislature realize, make our legislature realize how very much is at stake here and how much we need to act.
It might seem like we’re years ahead on this bill, but we don’t want to be to one storm behind.