Home > Uncategorized > What’s Up With The Christie Administration’s Sandy Recovery Planning?

What’s Up With The Christie Administration’s Sandy Recovery Planning?

Press Reports as a Money Story – Gives Christie Spin Opportunity

As we expected and due to limitations in the federal HUD block grant programming requirements, the Governor’s Plan is driven by “Rebuild Madness” – rebuilding and economic development are its exclusive focus, with literally no consideration of climate change, sea level rise, extreme weather events, natural resources, land use planning, or coastal vulnerability. ~~~ Bill Wolfe   3/14/13

I was going to write about the Sandy recovery expert recommendations by various flood plain management, insurance, building, planning and environmental professionals presented last week at an interesting Trenton panel discussion.

Virtually all the expert recommendations are being ignored in the Christie Administration’s rebuild dominated Sandy Recovery effort.

But,  I’ll hold off on writing that for a few days and instead just focus on today’s Asbury Park Press story, which involves a related set of issues (see: State retains $84M from Sandy grant to run programs).

In that APP story, the lack of any planning in Sandy recovery efforts we have been trying to get injected into the policy discussion was again ignored.

But, aside from this longstanding media oversight, remarkably, our criticism of the Christie Administration’s rush to rebuild and failure to plan was turned into an opportunity to favorably spin the Administration’s planning!

The Christie Department of Community Affairs (DCA) spokesperson tells us:

“New Jersey has opted to also spend a significant portion of the allowable administrative dollars on critical planning activities,” Petty said. “The state intends to build back better and stronger. This may require specific planning activities at both the state and local levels. HUD has required states build to green building standards and with a particular consideration for resiliency, which will require planning assistance to achieve successful implementation throughout the recovery.

Wow! Talk about turning lemons into lemonade!

So, again we must remind readers of a few important facts that contradict the DCA spin:

1) NJ has coastal planners, a planning process, and plans at the DEP and the Office of State Planning – all of which are being ignored:

a) DEP’s Coastal Management Program has been decimated and disabled.

b) The NJ State Planning Commission just (again) postponed their regularly scheduled meeting allegedly for lack of planning work! The State Plan still has not been adopted. Why is that not a suitable planning process? (we have opposed the Christie State Plan framework, which has been transferred into a corporate strategic economic development plan, not a land use plan).

c) The Gov. has opposed Assemblyman Barnes’ bill to establish a Coastal Commission to do the required regional planing work.

d)  Some have called for an update of the 30 year old 1980 DEP Shore Protection Master Plan.

So, there is no shortage of planning options out there. Again, all are ignored.

2) We have a sharply different take on the policy and planning issues implicit in the very favorable DCA quote in the above APP story, see:

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  1. C. Montalvo
    March 18th, 2013 at 17:57 | #1

    Bill – What the @#$%? State retaining $84 million to run programs that are already funded by state and federal funds? The DEP has had lots of time to implement ‘planning coastal storm/resiliency initiatives’ (like the CZMP 1980 or recently, since 2011 with a specific plannin tool – Coastal Community Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping Protocol). This sounds alot like when the DEP took the CBT funds and paid for staff and programs rather than passing the funding as directed by the legislation through to towns to build watershed capacity. Maybe instead of creating project lists and reworking the priorities depending upon the potential funding agency someone should have the chutzpa (sp) to actually take a stand and direct someone/anyone in the DEP to take the next step …do something dam it! Oh wait – the agency is a bureaucratic mess and those in charge don’t have a freakin’ clue as to how to implement anything relating to science. Rutgers put out a flood mapper tool – easy to use but not the best product – oh look, the Coastal Program released something in 2011 …and…federally funded too…see that got used. Well whatever tool gets used at least it will be a tool. I see that the DEP is putting folks out there to help communities plan for resilience. NOT. One would also think that to plan for resilience(y) one would have to identify a target – NOT again. Just rebuild, real quick.
    As far as the Coastal Commission idea – not too keen on that one – tired of seeing the same old faces (which I believe have sold their souls to the Administration). They’ll be appointed by the Administration anyway; decimated Coastal Program – very true! Shore Protection Master Plan – not only does that have to be re-written (which was tried) but maybe institute some rules that guide the program (those sunset and disappeared) so it’s not up to the ‘current political appointee’s discretion’. It is about time there’s some accountability and not finger pointing at DEP staff that (sorry Larry Roganese) actually were committed to their jobs but were directed otherwise or (latest term) “transitioned”. Bill – the next wave of exodus is about to occur – so maybe that $84 million will be required to hire contractors – probably all those DEP employees that are fleeing(about to retire).

  2. March 18th, 2013 at 21:12 | #2

    @C. Montalvo

    Yup, how do they get way with $84 million for already funded programs?

    I heard that the DCA plan itself was written by a consultant. True?

    You are probably right the money will be used to outsource work.

    Why reporters are not all over this just sows how lame they are.

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