A common failure of some mitigation plans is that they are never implemented. The action plan lays the groundwork for implementation by describing how the mitigation plan will be incorporated into existing planning mechanisms and how the mitigation actions will be prioritized, implemented and administered by each jurisdiction.
Incorporation into Existing Plans and Procedures
The plan shall include a process by which local governments incorporate the requirements of the mitigation plan into other planning mechanisms such as comprehensive or capital improvements, when appropriate.
44 CFR §201.6(c)(4)(ii)
For a community to succeed in reducing risks in the long term, the information and recommendations of the mitigation plan should be integrated throughout government operations. Through the planning process, partnerships are formed, and sustained action can increase the community’s resilience to disasters. Many other local plans, such as comprehensive, stormwater management, sustainability, economic development, and area plans present opportunities to address hazard mitigation in a way that can support multiple community objectives. Mitigation plans must describe the community’s process to integrate the data, analysis, and mitigation goals and actions into other planning mechanisms. First, the plan must identify the existing planning mechanisms where hazard mitigation information and actions may be incorporated. In this context, planning mechanisms mean governance structures used to manage local land use development and community decision making. The review of community capabilities described in Task 4 identifies this information. Multi-jurisdictional plans must describe each participating jurisdiction’s individual process for integrating the plan into their local planning mechanisms.
In some cases, a community may choose to develop their hazard mitigation plan wholly within their comprehensive planning process. FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning provides technical advice and examples of communities that have successfully integrated mitigation into local comprehensive plans and other types of local planning processes. Some existing processes may not allow for integration due to timing, budgets, or other constraints. For example, a community may determine that the goals and actions of the hazard mitigation plan will be considered in the next 5-year capital improvements planning process, which may be updated annually.
To identify how the plan can be incorporated into other plans, programs, and procedures, consider the following:
Integrate Plan Goals with other Community Objectives
The overall mission and goals for risk reduction and community safety may be incorporated into the objectives and policies of other plans. Goals for disaster resiliency can also complement the sustainability programs being developed by many communities. The following are examples of policies that can be included in the comprehensive plan and are implemented through zoning and building codes, capital improvements programs, and permitting processes:
- Protect life and property in high hazard areas by limiting densities of new development
- Limit the extension of public infrastructure in high hazard areas
- Reduce the vulnerability of future development in high hazard areas by reviewing development regulations
Use the Risk Assessment to Inform Plans and Policies
The risk assessment provides data, analysis, and maps that can be integrated into other plans to inform policies and decision-making. For instance, the risk assessment can form the basis for other emergency management program activities, including the emergency operations and evacuation planning. Incorporation of hazard information and mapping into land use plans, zoning and subdivision codes, and the development review process can guide growth and redevelopment away from high-risk locations. This information can also be used to design and site future public facilities to minimize exposure to hazards.
Implement Mitigation Actions through Existing Mechanisms
Where possible, the community should implement the identified mitigation actions through existing plans and policies, which already have support from the community and policy makers. For instance, a Community Wildfire Protection Plan identifies a community’s priorities for wildfire fuel reduction projects. A capital improvements program outlines a jurisdiction’s spending plan for capital projects that support existing and future developments, such as roads, water, and sewer systems, usually over a 5-year period. Mitigation projects that could be included in the capital improvements plan include strengthening at-risk critical facilities or acquiring open space in identified hazard areas. Other implementation tools for mitigation actions could include staff work plans, permitting procedures, job descriptions, and training.
Think Mitigation Pre- and Post-Disaster
Some communities have recovery or post-disaster redevelopment plans that identify the operations and strategies the community will take post-disaster to recover more effectively and to become more resilient in future disasters. Mitigation actions to reduce long-term vulnerability, such as effective building code adoption and enforcement, are applied in both the pre-disaster mitigation planning and post-disaster recovery activities of a community. Effective recovery planning builds on existing community goals and plans and incorporates the mitigation strategy into long-term recovery and reinvestment decisions.
Implementation of Mitigation Actions
The hazard mitigation strategy shall include an action plan, describing how the actions identified will be prioritized, implemented, and administered by each local jurisdiction. Prioritization shall include a special emphasis on the extent to which benefits are maximized according to a cost benefit review of the proposed projects and their associated costs.
44 CFR §201.6(c)(3)(iii)
For multi-jurisdictional plans, there must be identifiable action items specific to the jurisdiction requesting FEMA approval or credit of the plan.
44 CFR §201.6(c)(3)(iv)
The action plan also identifies how specific mitigation actions will be implemented, including who is responsible for which actions, what funding mechanisms and other resources are available or will be pursued, when the actions will be completed, and how they are prioritized. The capability assessment developed in Task 4 can be helpful in determining the agencies responsible for certain functions in the community and the available financial resources.
Assign Responsible Agency
The planning team needs to determine which department or agency is most appropriate to lead each action. In order to describe clearly how actions will be implemented and administered, at a minimum, a specific agency, department, or position must be assigned to the action, not the jurisdiction as a whole. If coordinating with other agencies will be necessary, this is a good time for them to provide input on the steps and timeframes necessary to carry out the actions.
Identify Potential Resources
Resources include funding, technical assistance, and materials. Estimating the cost of an action will help the planning team target the most appropriate resources. Sources of local funding may include the general operating budget, capital improvement budgets, staff time, impact fees, special assessment districts, and more. Your State Hazard Mitigation Officer and the FEMA mitigation planning webpage can help you identify potential state and federal resources. The planning team should also consider opportunities for private sector funding and partnerships, as well as resources that may be provided by academic institutions.
Estimate the Timeframe
The planning team and responsible agencies must develop a timeframe for implementing each mitigation action. Funding cycles can affect when you can begin implementing an action. The timeframe can detail when the action will be started, interim steps, and when it should be fully implemented. Timeframes can also be general, such as “3 to 5 years,” or defined for short, medium, and long term.
Other implementation items that you may consider describing in the action plan are goals addressed, partner agencies, steps for implementation, and estimated budget. An action implementation worksheet can be a good approach for formatting the information collected for each action and its implementation. For an example worksheet see Worksheet 6.2. The planning team may decide to assign the responsible agency for each action first. Each agency can then be responsible for developing the action implementation worksheet with additional information on how the action will be administered and implemented. If appropriate, the community can also begin developing project scopes of work, schedules, and budgets, particularly where Federal funding applications are anticipated. FEMA’s approval of the plan does not mean approved funding for projects identified in the plan or an approved application for federal assistance.