The Virginia Beach Listening Sessions were held in four locations on March 30 and 31, 2011. The participant total was 128 people, and 107 people filled out our community survey. We presented the findings from the listening sessions to the Virginia Beach City Council on May 17, 2011.
Please read more about our project below, or browse the results from the listening sessions and of class findings in the outcomes section of our website.
Final Report and Summary of the Listening Sessions:
Presentation to Virginia Beach City Council:
Findings from the Virginia Beach Listening Sessions, Presentation by Melissa Keywood, Associate at UVa Institute for Environmental Negotiation and Ben McFarlane, Regional Planner at Hampton Roads Planning District Commission
Informational Presentations from the Listening Sessions:
Projections of Sea Level Rise in Virginia Beach, Presentation by Skip Stiles, Executive Director of Wetlands Watch
How the Regional Planning Commission is Addressing Sea Level Rise, Presentation by Ben McFarlane, Regional Planner for Hampton Roads Planning District Commission
How the City of Virginia Beach is Addressing Sea Level Rise, Presentation by Clay Bernick, Administrator of the City of Virginia Beach Environmental and Sustainability Office
"Speak Out" Listening Session Video:
- Statement by Carolyn Caywood
Addressing Sea Level Rise in Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach citizens, the built environment, and the natural environment are extremely vulnerable to the combined impacts of relative sea level rise (sea level rise plus land subsidence) and natural coastal hazards. The environmental stewardship plan, section 7 of the City's 2009 Comprehensive Plan, describes the potential impact of relative sea level rise as follows:
- In the Chesapeake Bay Region, the projected relative sea level rise is 2.3 to 5.2 feet by 2100 according to the Chesapeake Bay Program's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee.
- The City of Virginia Beach could lose about 45,000 acres from water inundation, assuming 4 foot of relative sea level rise without considering storm surge effects or sea level rise adaptation measures.
- The Virginia Beach-Norfolk Metropolitan Statistical Area ranks 10th in the world in value of assets exposed to increased flooding from relative level rise, according to an analysis by RMS (a catastrophe modeling company).
- Hampton Roads is rated second only to New Orleans as the most vulnerable area to relative sea level rise in the country.
The high rate of relative sea level rise in Hampton Roads is due to regional land subsidence associated with underlying geology and local land subsidence associated with groundwater withdrawal and/or fill settlement.
The City of Virginia Beach Environmental Stewardship Plan makes recommendations to address vulnerability.
The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission is conducting a climate change study, an assessment of the regional transportation vulnerability to climate change, and revising the regional hazard mitigation plan to include relative sea level rise.
Vision Hampton Roads, the regional economic development plan, points to the challenges of sea level rise.
UVa Student Work
As part of the project, two U.Va. School of Architecture classes worked during the spring semester to plan and design solutions to address the issues. A graduate planning applications course, taught by Tim Beatley, Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, focused on identifying a range of planning tools. Kristina Hill, associate professor and chair of landscape architecture, led graduate students in developing a range of landscape design solutions.
The results, highlighted in the final class report, used Virginia Beach and the Hampton Roads region as the focus of investigation and analysis.
The Virginia Beach Listening Sessions is a project of the Virginia Sea Grant at Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), with additional funding from the:
- Hampton Roads Planning District Commission
- Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center,
- the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program,
- West Wind Foundation and
- Virginia Environmental Endowment.
The project is a partnership of experts from the:
- University of Virginia Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN),
- University of Virginia Department of Urban and Environmental Planning (UVa),
- University of Virginia Department of Landscape Architecture (UVa),
- Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC),
- Old Dominion University (ODU),
- Wetlands Watch (WW), and the
- City of Virginia Beach.