Exposing the Cost of Bad Planning Before Disaster Strikes
Early in its history, CURE exposed the incompetent planning and outright corruption behind the construction of thousands of homes in San Bernardino County. Large housing tracks were built at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in spite of grossly inadequate flood protection infrastructure. A campaign spearheaded by CURE ultimately forced the
State of California to acknowledge the extreme undersizing of the Deer and Cucamonga Creek flood debris basins. However, in the last decade, no federal, state or local agency has acted to halt further development in the area.
Whenever it is forced to compete with the short-term profits and jobs promised by development, the value of maintaining open space along the foothills is usually dismissed – in spite of the fact that this kind of green corridor acts as a buffer that protects residents from floods and fires, ensures groundwater recharge, and maintains wildlife habitat.
Yet increased development in the urban-wildland interface is already costing taxpayers by placing increasing strain on a wide range of infrastructure including transportation, health care, courts, policing, and especially fire agencies. With shrinking federal and state budgets, communities must make smarter choices, but lacking a discerning understanding of the long-term costs and trade-offs of sprawling development, they have been ill equipped to do so.
CURE will renew its effort to secure the last remaining open space along the San Gabriel Mountains to protect residents against high-velocity flood-borne debris flows, and safeguard ever-shrinking wildlife habitat. Part of this effort will entail educating local and regional planners about the well-documented dangers of development in the vicinity of alluvial fans.
(For a recent analysis of changes in the flood insurance landscape, see a new research report by the RAND Corporation, which examines what these changes will mean to New York City coastal areas and other areas at high risk for flooding.)