Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Implementation of a State's Coastal Restoration Program in a Home-Ruled Local Government Institutional Context: Case Study of Louisiana's Coastal Master Plan

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:10 PM
Board Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Claire Connolly Knox and Brie Haupt, University of Central Florida
For every $1 spent on restoring coastal wetlands and flood mitigation, studies show a $4 return to the economy and response efforts (Multihazard Mitigation Council, 2005; U. S. Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2007). However, unsuccessful implementation of large-scale restoration and mitigation projects in coastal areas (Knox, 2013) negatively skews this statistic and continues to hamper long-term recovery efforts, especially in coastal Louisiana. While some argue the inability of officials to meet the measurable outcomes of coastal restoration projects in Louisiana’s coastal zone is due to funding or private industry influence (Committee on the Review, 2009; U.S. GAO, 2007), this study proposes an alternative reason – institutional rules. Specifically, home rule allows local government leaders the authority and autonomy to govern within their jurisdiction, which could include creating land-use plans that contradict the state’s comprehensive plan. While research indicates a state mandate for local government hazard plans results in a higher quality plan (i.e., Berke, 1996), there are no mandates to align state or federal large-scale restoration projects or plans to local land use plans in many states, including Louisiana. Other researchers have acknowledged the importance of local land-use decisions and plans in implementing ecosystem management principles (Brody, 2003; Noss & Scott, 1997; McGinnis et al, 1999). While Louisiana has experienced centuries of wetland loss, it was not until hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, which converted an estimated 217 square miles of wetlands into open water in coastal Louisiana (Barras, 2009), that state officials integrated coastal restoration planning with hazard mitigation. It is the first large-scale restoration plan in the U.S. to incorporate hazard mitigation.

This study utilizes a two-phased approach to empirically test if institutional rules, namely home rule, are affecting the implementation of coastal zone policies, and to what extent the local land-use plans incorporate nonstructural elements (i.e., land-use planning, building codes, and implementation of ordinances) within the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan (CMP). The first uses a two-phased, coding methodology for systematically assessing and testing the quality of the 20 coastal zone parish land-use and hazard mitigation plans (Tang, Lindell, Prater, & Brody, 2008). Seventy-five coding indicators are organized into five categories: Factual Basis; Goals and Objectives; Inter-organizational Coordination and Capabilities; Policies, Tools, and Strategies; and Implementation. The second phase of analysis empirically tests if the institutional context (i.e., home rule charters of parish governments) affects the implementation of the CMP (Feiock & Kim, 2001; Lubell, Feiock, & Ramirez, 2005). This research extends the existing environmental planning and policy literatures by testing the local government’s ability to align its land-use and hazard mitigation plans with the state’s plan while governing by different sets of institutional rules.