As part of the Resilient Neighborhoods initiative, the Department of City Planning has been working with the community in Canarsie to identify changes to zoning and land use and other actions that support the continued vitality of this neighborhood, reduce its risk associated with coastal flooding, and ensure the long-term resiliency of its built environment. Canarsie was selected for the study not only because it was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but also because of the significant expansion of the Federal flood maps and concentration of building types that present challenges to retrofitting for resiliency.

View the PDF Document summary report on Canarsie.

Visit the Canarsie Flood Risk Atlas.

In order to better understand the various challenges that homeowners in Canarsie face, the Department of City Planning reached out to a variety of stakeholders including residents, community boards, local elected officials, and community-based organizations. The team presented to Community Board 18 and other local officials to inform residents of the study and gather early questions and concerns. This was also a chance to identify local challenges that needed further study.

Following Hurricane Sandy, Canarsie residents developed several locally based recovery groups, many of which built upon existing civic associations. Tapping into the local knowledge of these recovery groups, as well as Community Board 18, a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed with representatives from organizations such as the Canarsie Merchant Association, Canarsie Disaster Recovery Coalition and the Fresh Creek Association. During several meetings, the CAC identified areas of Canarsie that were the most vulnerable during Hurricane Sandy, community services that were lacking immediately following the storm, and long-standing neighborhood issues that were exacerbated because of the storm.

With community input through the CAC, Community Board, and elected officials, and through detailed flood risk and land use analysis, a planning framework was developed that identified land use and policy recommendations to help address neighborhood resiliency issues and provide a menu of retrofitting solutions that address Canarsie’s building stock.

Canarsie is a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn of more than 83,000 people bounded by Paerdegat Basin, Fresh Creek, and Jamaica Bay. During Hurricane Sandy, there was extensive flooding that caused significant damage to basements and ground floor levels throughout Canarsie.

Prior to FEMA’s release of the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (PFIRMs) in 2013, very little of Canarsie was in the federally designated flood zone.With the PFIRMS, however, two-thirds of the neighborhood is included, and the number of buildings in the 1% annual chance floodplain increased from approximately 25 to 5,000 buildings. This expansion, in addition to national changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will result in higher insurance premiums for homeowners with federally regulated mortgages, many of whom may not have had flood insurance in the past. Flood-proofing homes to meet federal requirements would allow property owners to reduce insurance premiums; however these strategies require significant investment and present physical and zoning challenges. The 2013 PDF Document Citywide Flood Resiliency Zoning Text Amendment was adopted on a temporary basis to remove many of the zoning barriers to making resiliency investments. However, this text amendment is not permanent, and additional strategies are needed to enable resilient development and create a long-term resilient future for Canarsie.

Canarsie is a vibrant neighborhood with a diverse housing stock, an active waterfront, and open space that surrounds the area. While homeowners experienced extensive damage on the ground floor of their properties, most buildings fared well structurally during Sandy. The potential for future severe storms puts residents, homes, and infrastructure in Canarsie at significant risk, but even during more regular, smaller storms street flooding and sewer backups can cause minor damage and inconvenience.  Opportunities exist to support the ongoing economic and social vitality of the neighborhood while increasing resilience to these events. The following framework map, developed through extensive public outreach and interagency coordination, identifies localized land use recommendations as well as larger policy considerations that require further study and interagency collaboration for implementation.

Canarsie Framework Map
Canarsie Framework Map

Attached/Semi-detached Housing

DCP is exploring citywide zoning modifications to allow for the relocation of residential floor space to facilitate retrofitting attached and semi-detached properties that cannot be easily elevated. These zoning changes, in concert with outreach on the benefits of making resiliency investments, can enable a more resilient housing stock that continues to meet the needs of residents and homeowners.

Detached Housing

DCP is exploring additional citywide zoning modifications to facilitate elevation of detached housing. These zoning changes, in concert with outreach on the benefits of making resiliency investments, can enable a more resilient housing stock that continues to meet the needs of residents and homeowners.

Retail Corridors

Canarsie’s commercial corridors in are not in the floodplain which make them a resiliency asset.  Strategies should be pursued to support the vitality of existing businesses while incentivizing new business development.

Coastal Protection Opportunity

Canarsie is surrounded by city and federally-owned parkland, which may possibly be leveraged to create coastal protection against serious flooding events.

The Resilient Neighborhoods Initiative is part of a broad range of efforts by the City to recover from Hurricane Sandy, promote rebuilding, and increase the city’s resilience to climate-related events, including coastal flooding and storm surge.  Recommendations from this program will be developed in close consultation with area stakeholders and will coordinate with other initiatives, including ONENYC and the Mayor’s Office for Recovery and Resiliency.

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