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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute

HVRI Affiliate publishes on disaster buyouts

September 2018

Susan Kuo at the USC Law School (and HVRI affiliate) just published a book chapter titled, "The uneasy case for disater buyouts," in Research Handbooks in Climate Change Law. 


For public officials, buyouts are an appealing mechanism for removing flood-prone properties from vulnerable coastal areas. Importantly, buyouts differ from takings in that participation is ostensibly voluntary. Thus, buyouts seem to offer results without violating individual autonomy. In reality, however, buyout offers can be highly coercive. For example, if the state seeks to acquire multiple properties within a neighborhood, an individual’s isolated property could become worthless. Because property values in a community are interconnected, buyout offers create a problem of collective action for recipients. This chapter argues that disaster buyouts should be regulated in ways that recognize the collective context