Hazard mitigation describes actions taken to help reduce or eliminate long-term risks caused by hazards or disasters, such as flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, or tsunamis. As the costs of disaster management and recovery continue to rise, governments and citizens must find ways to reduce hazard risks to our communities. While communities make plans and approve new developments and improvements to existing infrastructure, mitigation can and should be an important component of the planning effort.
While mitigations can and should be taken before a disaster occurs, hazard mitigation is also essential after a disaster. Often after disasters, repairs and reconstruction are completed in such a way as to simply restore damaged property to pre-disaster conditions. These efforts may get the community back to normal for a time, but the replication of pre-disaster conditions may result in a repetitive cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. This recurrent reconstruction becomes more expensive as years go by.
Hazard mitigation breaks this repetitive cycle by taking a long-term view of rebuilding and recovering following disasters. The implementation of such hazard mitigation actions leads to building stronger, safer and smarter communities that are better able to reduce future injuries and future damage.
Types of Mitigation Techniques
Prevention - Government, administrative, or regulatory actions that influence the way land and buildings are developed to reduce hazard losses. Includes planning and zoning, floodplain laws, capital improvement programs, open space preservation, and stormwater management regulations.
Property Protection - Modification of buildings or structures to protect them from a hazard or removal of structures from a hazard area. Includes acquisition, elevation, relocation, structural retrofit, storm shutters, and shatter-resistant glass.
Public Education and Awareness - Actions to inform citizens and elected officials about hazards and ways to mitigate them. Includes outreach projects, real estate disclosure, hazard information centers, and school-age and adult education.
Natural Resource Protection - Actions that minimize hazard loss and preserve or restore the functions of natural systems. Includes sediment and erosion control, stream corridor restoration, watershed management, forest and vegetation management, and wetland restoration and preservation.
Emergency Services - Actions that protect people and property during and immediately after a hazard event. Includes warning systems, emergency response services, and the protection of essential facilities.
Structural Projects - Actions that involve the construction of structures to reduce the impact of a hazard. Includes dams, setback levees, floodwalls, retaining walls, and safe rooms.
Common Mitigation Actions
- Enforcement of building codes, floodplain management codes and environmental regulations.
- Public safety measures such as continual maintenance of roadways, culverts and dams.
- Acquisition of relocation of structures, such as purchasing buildings located in a floodplain.
- Acquisition of undeveloped hazard prone lands to ensure no future construction occurs there.
- Retrofitting of structures and design of new construction, such as elevating a home or building.
- Protecting critical facilities and infrastructure from future hazard events.
- Planning for hazard mitigation, emergency operations, disaster recovery, and continuity of operations.
- Development and distribution of outreach materials related to hazard mitigation.
- Deployment of warning systems to alert and notify the public.
During the planning process, the City of Los Angeles Steering Committee is actively engaging community members and stakeholders in the planning process as part of a whole community approach in hazard mitigation and disaster planning.
Hazard Mitigation Plan Revision Process
This hazard mitigation planning process has six steps:
STEP 1: Organize Resources & Build the Planning Team
Relevant studies, plans, and reports are collected along with communications resources that allow the public to be involved throughout the planning process. A planning team is assembled consisting of municipal representatives, and local and regional stakeholders.
STEP 2: Develop the Plan’s Risk Assessment
The risk assessment includes the identification of the location and geographic extent of natural and human-caused hazards that can affect the City. The hazard impacts and future probability of occurrence is also determined. Scientific and historical evidence of past events is collected and evaluated. All of these factors, along with the information on damage and losses sustained by the City, enables the hazards to be ranked from highest threat to lowest threat.
STEP 3: Assess Capabilities
Local capabilities through emergency management, the National Flood Insurance Program, planning and regulatory authorities, administrative, technical, financial, and political capacities are assessed for the plan revision.
STEP 4: Develop the Mitigation Strategy
Goals, objectives, and past mitigation actions are evaluated and revised as needed by the planning team. The planning team will also define appropriate new mitigation techniques, and prioritize mitigation actions and projects in the revised mitigation strategy.
STEP 5: Determine Plan Maintenance Process
The HMP is a living document that must be regularly reviewed, updated, and maintained. A schedule is prepared to include responsible departments involved with monitoring, evaluating, and updating the plan during its five-year cycle. A process for integrating the updated Mitigation Strategy into existing plans and reports should be outlined and a plan for continued public outreach and participation must also be developed.
STEP 6: Obtain Mitigation Plan Approval and Adoption
The draft plan is made available for public comment then submitted to the State of California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and FEMA for review and approval. Once a Plan has been determined to meet all state and federal requirements and receives official approval it