Rating the Cities: Constructing a City Resilience Index for Assessing the Effect of State and Local Laws on Long-Term Recovery from Crisis and Disaster

Article by John Travis Marshall

Superstorm Sandy, the 2008 Iowa floods, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita all supply recent reminders that U.S. cities can no longer adopt an ad hoc approach to threats presented by climate change and natural hazards.  The stories detailing long-term recovery from these disasters underscore that federal, state, and local governments are struggling to appreciate the legal tools and institutions necessary to implement the large-scale infrastructure, housing, and community development programs that climate change and more frequent natural disasters demand.  This Article calls for development of a tool allowing succinct evaluation of the range of community capacities that will figure critically in the implementation of long-term disaster recovery efforts.  On completion, this assessment tool will provide a “snapshot” of a local government’s resiliency—its capacity to address and bounce back from disaster-related challenges.  Building on recent environmental, land use, and local government law scholarship, this Article recommends creation of, and outlines several key indicators for, a City Resilience Index (CRI).  The CRI evaluates cities’ legal resources, focusing on whether a local government possesses the necessary legal and institutional “toolkit” to pursue redevelopment initiatives essential to managing the challenges presented by natural hazards and climate change.

About the Author

Assistant Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth, Georgia State University College of Law; J.D., 1997, University of Florida College of Law; M.A., 1994, University of Texas at Austin; B.A., 1990, University of Notre Dame. 


90 Tul. L. Rev. 35 (2015)