Greater Irvine Chamber Represents SoCal Region at Pew Charitable Trusts’ Forum

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Main News Photo

The Greater Irvine Chamber was invited to join Pew Charitable Trusts for their 2020 Flood-Prepared Communities forum in Washington, D.C. in February. The Chamber’s Senior Director of Government Affairs and Economic Development Whit Peterson represented the Southern California region as a stakeholder during the three-day event with the Pew’s policy team. The focus of the event was to bring awareness to several pieces of legislation centered around modernizing federal flood insurance, mitigating disasters, prioritizing flood-ready infrastructure, promoting nature-based solutions to mitigate flooding, and addressing repetitive flood-loss properties.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created in 1968 to provide federally-backed flood insurance coverage for homeowners and small businesses in more than 22,000 communities throughout the country. Established to offset a lack of private-sector flood insurance and the help reduce federal spending on disaster response and rebuilding, the NFIP has more than 5 million policies. Pew studies have found that during or after natural disasters, 40-60% of small businesses that are forced to shut their doors never re-open. Even bleaker, those small businesses that have to close their doors for five days or more have a 90% failure rate within the first year following the event. Additionally, repeatedly flood properties are defined as those who suffer losses of $1,000 or more twice in a 10-year period. These properties make up 1% of NFIP’s policyholders but represent 25-30% of its claims.

With the increase in large, catastrophic flood events caused by Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Ike, and Harvey, NFIP’s debt to the Treasury has grown to more than $20 billion. Now in its 15th no-change extension in two years, the NFIP expires Sept. 30, 2020.  With reauthorization on the table, now is the time to make much-needed reforms to the program to create solvency, build more resilient infrastructure, and bring down rates for those who are insured by the program. Part of the ask of Congress is to include in the reauthorization language to allow for proactive disaster mitigation measures. Currently, when a road or a bridge, for example, is destroyed by a natural disaster it is rebuilt to the same exact standards as it was before the destructive event. It is the Greater Irvine Chamber’s position that governments should be considering building stronger infrastructure to help prevent the cycle of destruction, repair, and rebuilding that drains taxpayer dollars. Research conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences finds that every $1 invested in disaster mitigation saves society $6. 

Peterson, along with Todd Priest, and Forbes Tompkins of Pew Charitable Trusts met with staff from key legislators on the committees tasked with handling NFIP to discuss the need for these important reforms. The meetings included staff from Reps. Julia Brownley (CA-26), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Jared Huffman (CA-2), John Garamendi (CA-3), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), and Harley Rouda (CA-48). 

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an independent nonprofit organization that is focused on solving today’s most challenging problems. It currently has more than 50 program focus areas that seek to improve public policy by conducting rigorous analysis; linking diverse interests to pursue common cause and insisting on tangible results; informing the public by providing useful data that illuminate the issues and trends shaping our world; and invigorating civic life by encouraging democratic participation and strong communities.

For more information about the Greater Irvine Chamber’s work in government affairs and how to become involved, contact Whit Peterson.

Category: Chamber News, Government Affairs