City of Cape Canaveral Resiliency Action Plan
The City continuously strives to ensure the safety, security and well-being of its residents. As the Space Coast grows into an economic engine for the State and the Nation, the City has become a socioeconomic, multimodal hub for tourism and the aerospace industry. While these changes represent economic growth, it also offers an opportunity to better prepare for future challenges to infrastructure and sensitive local environments, most notably the Banana and Indian River Lagoon systems.
As a barrier island municipality that already experiences annual threats from tropical cyclones and flooding, the City will be on the frontlines of increasing extreme weather challenges and should act accordingly in order to prepare its operations and infrastructure. For example, federal agencies in 2020 recorded 22 billion-dollar weather and climate-related disaster events that impacted the United States, costing over $95 Billion in damages. This is the highest number of billion-dollar weather and climate-related disasters ever recorded in the U.S. since recordkeeping began. Furthermore, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season saw the formation of 30 tropical cyclones, the highest recorded number named storms since recordkeeping began, with 11 storms making landfall in the U.S. that caused over $50 Billion in damages.
As the Nation grapples with the COVID-19 Pandemic (and associated financial implications), multi-billion-dollar weather disasters in the form of wildfires, power outages, floods and hurricanes will require local governments, like the City, to proactively maintain continuity of governance, while also preserving and enhancing quality of life for residents.
In order to become a “Future-Ready” coastal municipality, the City must utilize sustainability and resilience-based concepts to mitigate and adaptively manage these challenges. With this in mind, the Resilient Cape Canaveral Action Plan (Plan) was developed, which was enthusiastically and unanimously adopted by Council at the June 22, 2021 Regular City Council Meeting.
The Plan’s content is an outgrowth of the City’s 2019 Vulnerability Assessment (Assessment), which was produced by the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) and unanimously approved by Council at the August 20, 2019 Regular Meeting. The Plan utilizes the findings and community input from the Assessment, as well as numerous other accredited government, academic and private agency recommendations, to propose forward-thinking, real-world, science-based solutions to combat future environmental conditions.
According to the Assessment, the City can expect significant impacts to the natural and built environment from the effects of coastal flooding, enhanced storm surge and sea level rise as it moves into the 21st Century. Consistent and long-lasting impacts could be felt as early as the 2030s.
With this in mind, the Plan has 56 actionable items (Preparedness Targets) planned across a 30-year timeframe that are broken into implementation periods of: current or ongoing; 5 years (2025); 15 years (2035); and 30 years (2050). A 30-year timeframe was chosen as a safety buffer because issues such as flooding from sea level rise, as outlined in the Assessment, are predicted to significantly and regularly affect City activities by the year 2050 and beyond. It also gives the City adequate time to prioritize and implement capital projects with appropriate budget allocations over the Plan’s timeframe.
The Preparedness Targets are organized within eight (8) overall Action Categories, including:
- Green/Resilient Economy: creating a local, diverse and resilient economy to anticipate risks and evaluate how these might impact key economic assets and build a capacity to respond.
- Natural Systems: land and water ecosystems that play a sustaining role in the health and well-being of the local environment and economy.
- Transportation: accessible, clean and safe modes of transportation are key factors in designing a bikeable and walkable community.
- Energy: energy production and distribution are critical pieces of the City’s infrastructure. Without them, stable City functions would not be possible.
- Built Environment: this is considered anything that provides people with living, working and recreational spaces and can be influenced through innovative and sustainable land use policies and design.
- Equity and Quality of Life: the need to create an environment that is responsive, socially connected and reduces environmental impacts for all age, abilities and economic groups.
- Waste and Consumption: the amount of waste generated globally continues to escalate while at the same time, the national recycling rate stands at 35%. The need to reduce waste pollution and increase recycling rates is critical.
- Storm Readiness and Sea Level Rise: over the next 20 years, the City could see up to 1.85 feet of sea level rise. By 2100 it is estimated that the City could see between 5.15 (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-based modeling) and 8.48 (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-based modeling) feet of sea level rise. It is imperative that the City appropriately prepare for increased risk and prolonged periods of inundation due to this prediction.
The Preparedness Targets should be considered living targets that can be changed and updated based on funding availability, changing priorities and resident feedback. Many are already under implementation, development or actively being researched. The goal is to use the targets, and the Plan as a whole, as a roadmap, with each target creating building blocks for a sustainable and resilient Cape Canaveral. A large number of targets also aim to inspire change in the Community by giving residents and business owners resources and educational information to help them reduce their own environmental footprint while increasing their preparedness. All Preparedness Targets and their implementation timeframes are to be reviewed by Staff with public outreach and input every 5 years to determine success of ongoing initiatives and update targets as necessary.
Like its targets, the Resilient Cape Canaveral Action Plan is a living document. Additional supporting documents and initiatives will likely develop in order to deal with more specific issues. Examples of potential supporting documents include an alternative fuel conversion plan for the City’s fleet, renewable energy transition recommendations and a waste audit of City functions.
Hundreds of cities, of all sizes, have written and adopted such plans. Even though the City will be faced with increasing challenges as it moves further into the century, these challenges should be viewed as opportunities to build a smart, all-encompassing municipality that encourages local investment in its residents and businesses, drives economic diversification and seeks the protection of its people. Cities that develop alongside the concepts of sustainability and resilience are seen as generally being more livable, inviting and willing to invest in their resident’s long term well-being. According to a report by the National Institute of Building Sciences, for every $1 spent on disaster mitigation projects, such as improving stormwater management systems or strengthening buildings against hurricanes, an average of $6 is saved on future relief costs.
The Plan completed a 5-week public comment and review period that spanned from 9:00 a.m., Monday, April 26, 2021 until 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 1, 2021. During this period, community members had the opportunity to read, review and comment on a working draft of the Plan via:
- A dedicated webpage on the City’s website.
- Two virtual public comment and review sessions that were broadcast live, recorded and posted on the City’s official YouTube channel (which has 149 subscribers).
- One in-person public comment and review session hosted at Cape Canaveral City Hall.
- The Weekly Update (which has over 1,200 subscribers).
- A “quick link” portal active on the City website’s homepage that could take residents to a draft of the Plan.
- Event reminders for each public comment and review session were posted to the City’s official Facebook page (which has over 9,100 followers) at least 1 week prior to each meeting, and in each Weekly Update during the 5-week period.
- The Plan was also publicly accessible and reviewed in detail at a February 2, 2021 City Council Workshop (which was recorded and posted to the City’s official YouTube channel) and at the March 31, 2021 City Council Strategic Planning Retreat.
Based on website analytics and social media, it is estimated that there were a total of 7,672 “views” to all the provided information and platforms in which the plan was publicly accessible (i.e. the Weekly Update, Facebook, YouTube and the City’s website).