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🗣️ "Flipping Front Yards In NOLA"


Photo by Aya Salman / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: Dana Eness | Executive Director | The Urban Conservancy
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[5:00] “New Orleans […] get[s] 64 plus […] inches of rain, raining in a different way than it has in the past [with] more intense downpours. And that water has to go somewhere. And so we are battling on a couple of different fronts as a coastal city. We're getting a lot of water coming down. We're dealing with the erosion of the coast. We're dealing with rising sea levels. And because of that spongy subsurface with no rock substrata, we're also dealing with the potential of substrata if we don't manage that water properly. So then we're also combating the sinking of the city if we're not recharging our water tables down below our groundwater.”

[8:58] “The umbrella under which all of [the efforts to create more green solutions] falls is that it's […] about creating space for that water to go. About 6 years ago […] constituents were complaining to us about neighbors over paving and recognizing both the aesthetic downside to that the curb appeal that went away when people pave their entire front yards but also […] the increased flooding. They were coming to us and saying please help us do something about this. […] We quickly found so many people [that] live in a house that has more paving than it should. They want [to, but] don't know the first thing to do to get rid of it. And that was kind of a lightbulb moment for us as a small organization […] and that's how we develop the Front Yard Initiative, which incentivizes homeowners to remove excessive paving.”

[11:48] “Our processes [is] really about empowering the homeowner to really be involved […] and do the work of informing themselves. […] You sign up, you're invited to […] a one hour workshop […] and then once people have completed that workshop, we invite them to submit a design based on what we told them about what we're looking for in terms of before and after. […] We have a vetting process. Funding is limited, unfortunately. […] On average, we're able to assist financially about 25 homeowners per year. And then […] once they've gotten the approval from us, they go to a contractor. And we have a contractor green sector directory list that we refer to. […] We do an after site visit as well to ensure that what they did matches up to what they said they would do. And then we cut them a check, which typically, it caps out at $1,250. It's based on the per square foot of paving removed. And that typically represents about a 20% discount of the overall cost of the project.

[15:27] “To date, roughly, we've financially assisted about 115 homes, […] over 67,000 square feet of paving have been removed. That's […] almost $650,000 investment that that represents going to green sector goods and service providers. And that's per rain event 108,000 plus gallons of water being kept out of our aging pumping and drainage system. So […] that's over 2 million gallons per year that is kept out of our pumping system.

[20:17] “Smart urban design is always […] designing for the most vulnerable in your community. […] And that is absolutely true when we talk about stormwater management as well. So when we think about those families that for reasons of historic racism […] that have [been] pushed […] into the less desirable real estate markets, [they] have the highest risk of repetitive loss from flood and other elements of climate change. […] And so how do we make sure that they are as protected as everyone else? And recognizing that it's probably going to cost more to protect them because their properties are in more vulnerable places to flood risk as well.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 26 min | 🗓️ 12/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 24 min