Expanding Boston’s Capacity to Build Coastal Resilience Infrastructure: Lessons from the Seaport District


The Boston Green Ribbon Commission released a report this morning: Expanding Boston’s Capacity to Build Coastal Resilience Infrastructure: Lessons from the Seaport District complete with key findings and recommendations for immediate and longer-term action.

This report culminates a year-long project focused on the challenges of implementing flood protection in areas along Fort Point Channel and Seaport Boulevard facing urgent risks – where action is required by 2025 or 2030.  Although the study focused on the most vulnerable areas of the Seaport District, many of the recommendations were developed with a citywide perspective in mind. As such, they are intended to help advance resilience implementation not only in the Seaport but across the city.

Undertaken in coordination with the City of Boston and based on extensive interviews with major property owners in the target areas, the report builds on strategies devised through the 2018 Climate Ready Boston project: Coastal Resilience Solutions for South Boston. The City has been a leader in the process of planning for climate change and its impacts; this report takes the next steps by recommending funding, governance, and regulatory actions required by the City in the near and longer term.

There are two parallel tracks of recommended actions: one focused on leveraging existing frameworks to complete initial urgent actions; and the second to identify opportunities for transformative measures needed to support district-wide, and even citywide, implementation. It is recommended that work on both tracks begin immediately.

 Recommendations for urgent action (track one) include:

  • Establishment of a new senior level cabinet chief focused on climate resilience implementation
  • Publicize and adopt Climate Ready Boston district coastal resilience plans completed or underway
  • Establish performance and design standards for district-scale coastal protection investments on private property using existing regulatory tools
  • Launch the Infrastructure Coordination Committee recommended by Climate Ready Boston.
  • Clarify expectations around public-private cost share for coastal flood mitigation projects
  • Launch a joint planning process with Massport
  • Pursue agreement (MoUs) with key property owners
  • Continue to pursue State and Federal funding opportunities
  • Ensure the Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District under development by the BPDA helps promote and is consistent with plans for district-scale flood risk mitigation

Recommendations for the longer term (track two) include:

  • Use Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District with established coastal protection performance standards for district flood risk mitigation with new development
  • Expand the pilot cost share analysis undertaken for this project to examine the merits of funding implementation using a system based on annualized benefits of flood protection
  • Evaluate the potential for a Community-Based Public Private Partnership model to finance and deliver flood mitigation projects
  • Vet and further develop the District for Resilience Improvements (DRI) framework and cost share approach with a coalition of local and state stakeholders

These recommendations have been made to the City of Boston.

The Executive Summary and full report can be found here.

For more information please contact Yve Torrie (ytorrie@abettercity.org).


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