[LTE] Ocean State must face reality of rising shores

Ocean State must face reality of rising shores
By Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Rep. Terri Cortvriend 

You may have heard about the Charlestown man who is suing the town of South Kingstown and one of its police officers over his arrest in June on a trespassing charge while he was collecting seaweed along a beach.

The charge was dismissed, but the act itself was, in part, intended to call attention to unresolved questions about shoreline access here in Rhode Island, a right enshrined in our state constitution. A 1982 Supreme Court ruling attempted to clarify the issue by saying the public’s right ends at the mean high-tide line, but since that line is a calculation of averages over an 18.6 year cycle, there’s no way for a beachgoer to identify it.

Further plicating matters is that the line will continually move inland as sea level rises, most of the time gradually, but at times heaving large chunks off dunes and other coastal features. With sea rise, property owners and members of the public whose shoreline access is constitutionally guaranteed will continue losing ground.

After Hurricane Sandy destroyed properties along the coasts of New York and New Jersey, there was an uptick in discussion about whether some particularly at-risk coastal properties should even be rebuilt. Many were, in fact, abandoned there, because increasingly violent weather events and rising seas have rendered them too much of a risk for repeated loss.

As much as we value the right of landowners, there may well be properties in our state, too, that are similarly unjustifiable risks for flooding, destruction and even loss of life.

As the Ocean State, we should be much more proactive when it es to resiliency along our shores. We should be exploring the actual risk to each coastal munity and each property using up-to-date technology that models expected risks. We must continue to train our municipal planning and zoning boards on the risks of sea rise so they have the tools they need to make sound decisions that do not jeopardize property investments and keep the shoreline open to the pubic under their constitutional rights. 

There’s little doubt that in general, homeowners are less than ideally prepared for flood risks, particularly the increasing risks associated with rising seas in the ing decades. Only about 15,000 Rhode Island properties in the flood zones carry flood insurance, and only those with mortgages are actually required to have it. Those with enough cash to purchase a beach home without a mortgage aren’t. While they may have the means to risk property destruction in the event of a major disaster, are they putting public assets and people’s lives at risk?

The risk isn’t limited to private property. Doubtlessly, many state and municipal assets are also located in areas that are already prone to flooding, or whose risk is increasing. Stewards of public resources have a responsibility to understand and defend those assets from potential damage, and must face the reality that the most prudent step might be to move them elsewhere.

Our state needs a more robust action plan for protecting public and private properties from the ever-increasing risk of coastal flooding, and that plan must include an accounting of where the high-tide line is, and how it is projected to move. 

The creation of this plan should include an audit of properties to determine what the real risks are, and it should also bring in real estate professionals, insurers and lenders, because they help determine the price of ownership of such properties, and should be sure that those prices accurately reflect the real cost of ownership, including potential destruction.

The Ocean State must face the fact that the more of our state is, indeed, being part of the ocean with each passing year. Leaders and property owners must take much more concrete steps to predict the encroachment and protect our assets from it.

Rep. Lauren H. Carson is a Democrat who represents District 75 in Newport. Rep. Terri Cortvriend is a Democrat who represents District 72 in Portsmouth and Middletown.

Aquidneck Island Emergency Preparedness Fair Nov. 9

There will be an Emergency Preparedness Fair on Saturday, Nov 9 from 9am-noon at the Gaudet Middle School in Middletown with displays and representatives from local and state agencies to help answer questions and help plan for the unexpected. There will be emergency vehicles on hand for the kids, and representatives from all three island munities (including local emergency management organizations that are always seeking volunteers!)

Click image to embiggen.


Eighteen years

Heaven/is falling
The angels/lie on sidewalks in the rain.
The serpent/calling
Up from the lost world/buried deep within our brain.
And the saints have piled up in the streets
Their sacred blood staining the sheets
Their halos and bones have been sold
Pried loose before the bodies were cold
And the Rainbow disappears with the dawn
And there's nothing left to carry us on
And there is no salvation to be found
Now that Heaven's underground.

Darkness/descending
Unending/as the chaos runs its course.
We grind on/pretending
Nothing/left us but remorse.
And the voices that speak in our dreams
Offer forts as cold as they seem
As faces fade off into noise
And the lost take the Hand that destroys
And there are no stories left to tell
Now that Earth inhabits Hell

Bridge
It's forever
and it's worse than it appears.
This brave new world
is just the sum of all your fears.
And each day
follows senseless on the last.
With no way
out of the demon haunted past...
(Spoken: "Dingir.Pazuzu Qatu Dingir.Ishtar")

The Heroes/are dead now
Their bodies/scattered ashes in the deep.
The Prophet/unread now
In the sound and the fury of reason's final sleep.
And all along the roads to the Dome
the dead appear to carry us home
and the angels have begun now to rise
their screaming held back in the skies
and the world is just the walls of a cave...
As we look up the sides of the grave...
And there is no salvation to be found
Now that Heaven's underground

Ahh oooh
Ahh oooh
Ahh oooh

My WorldCon Dublin performance schedule!

WorldCon Dublin logoThe musical performance schedule for the World Science Fiction Convention Dublin2019 has been posted, and I'm delighted to have two 50-minute concerts where I'll be playing my geek-inflected folk/filk acoustic tunes.

The first is Thursday night in the cool art show performance space at Point Square:
15 Aug 2019, Thursday 16:30 - 17:20, WH2 - Performance space (Point Square Dublin)

Then on Saturday afternoon at the conference center:
17 Aug 2019, Saturday 13:45 - 14:35, Wicklow Hall 2A (Dances) (CCD)

I'm putting the finishing touches on a demo album this weekend featuring most of the music I'll be playing. Look for a link soon.

More information about Worldcon available at the main Dublin2019 web site.

MacGibbon and Shers for Portsmouth Water Board 6/12

While I'm not running in the Portsmouth Water and Fire District election this year — I've got a conflict with Tuesday meetings — I'm supporting Tasha MacGibbon for Moderator and Allen Shers for Treasurer. Please take a few minutes to vote next Wednesday, June 12 at 1944 East Main Rd, from 7am to 8pm.

I'm not alone -- the Portsmouth Democratic Town mittee voted unanimously on Monday, June 3, to support Tasha MacGibbon for Moderator and Allen Shers for Treasurer. Here's what they said in a statement sent to the press:

"We didn't vote to support them because they're Democrats," said Portsmouth Democratic Town mittee chair Len Katzman. "In fact, Allen Shers was recently elected to the school mittee as a Republican. But our members have been impressed with his clear thinking, reasoned positions, and dedication to the munity, and felt he deserved our support."

Tasha MacGibbon is a district training manager for T-Mobile with significant management experience. She's the parent of an 8-year-old, and her husband is a sergeant in the U.S. Marines. MacGibbon ran for Town Council as a Democrat in 2014.

Supporting multi-partisan candidates in this election was not an issue for the Town mittee, said Katzman. "Like all residents, we value efficient, transparent governance," he said. "And we know that one of the things people look to us for is vetting and endorsing capable people."

The Portsmouth Democrats urged all residents, no matter who they might support, to get to the polls on June 12. "One of the challenges of Water Board elections is turnout," said Katzman. "While these are important public offices, typically only a few hundred people participate. We want to do our part to remind folks to take a few minutes to cast their votes."

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District election will be held on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at the Portsmouth Water and Fire District Office, 1944 East Main Road from 7am to 8pm. And remember to bring photo ID.

Sen. Seveney intros drink-driving fine to support substance abuse programs

Portsmouth Sen. Jim Seveney (D-11) has introduced legislation that would impose a substance abuse fine for those who drive under the influence or fail to submit to a breathalyzer test.

The legislation (2019-S 0238) would impose a $300 fine on any conviction of driving under the influence or a violation for refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer that would fund substance abuse programs.

Senator Seveney submitted the legislation after touring the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal and discussing the need for increased funding for substance abuse prevention programs with Chief Magistrate Domenic DiSandro III.

“I’d like to thank Chief Magistrate DiSandro and Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey for their assistance in developing this alternative funding stream,” said Seveney. “This legislation will require those who drink and drive to fund important substance abuse programs, which in turn will help to mitigate the incidence of driving under the influence.”

Those funds would be allocated to the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Development Disabilities and Hospitals and used to fund substance abuse programs and student assistance programs for youth.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Senators McCaffrey (D-29), Cynthia Coyne (D-32), Lou DiPalma (D-12) and Adam Satchell (D-9), has been referred to the Senate Judiciary mittee. Similar legislation (2019-H 5293) has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dennis Canario (D-71).

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

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