CNU-California's Climate Change Council

On February 29, 2020 in Sacramento, California CNUca will host the inaugural Climate Adaptation Council for a planning charrette over four days of active collaboration.  This is a closed, invitational only event.

The goal of the Climate Adaptation Council is to ‘envision a plan for an adaptive future.’

The Council will produce deployable physical plans, maps, policies and best practices for adapting California to hotter, drier, more combustible, flood-prone, and socially unstable conditions.

Protocol for the Council

The Council will meet in Sacramento for three 8-hour days. These will be allocated to four 6-hour sessions for discussion under the discipline of Prospects, Premises, Precedents, and Proposals (see below). Separate committees will not be required as the Council will be limited to a dozen informed persons, all in general agreement with the Premises.

Given the short time available, there will be drafts already prepared, the presentation, expansion and editing of which will the purpose of the discussion (there is a technique for this). An editing committee will subsequently complete the California report.

CNU Adaptation Brief


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  1. Report on the prospects of Mitigating climate change—with thresholds and tipping points where applicable. This is to be a balanced description of positive and negative consequences. 
  2. Report on the primary impacts of Climate Change including Heat, Drought, Fire, Storm, Flooding, etc***
  3. Report on the secondary impacts of the primary impacts: Migration, Social Instability, Loss of Species, Economic Disruption
  4. Establish criteria and mapping of geographic areas affected negatively and positively by climate change.

* Each person participating in the Adaptation council is welcome to use the materials as they see fit.

CNU-California is a 501(C)3 and all donations are tax deductible.

At the scale of:

-The Dwelling, considered precedents: The compound, The courtyard house, The Palazzo, The hacienda, The ranch house, The mobile home, 

The Block, considered precedents: The perimeter block, The secured alley. The close, The IBC concrete platform, The parking deck The Plat of Zion, Radburn

Scale of the Organization, considered precedents: Cohousing The Mormon Stake, CoHousing, Kibbutz, Commune, Refuge Camps, Mobile Home Parks

Scale of the Community, considered precedents: Usonia, The Bastide Towns, The Transition Towns, the Detroit Pink Zones, The Garden City

Scale of the Region/State, considered precedents: The Tennessee Valley Authority

Scale of the Nation, considered precedents: Singapore

Scale of the World: ?

Adaptation Council Leadership

Andrés Duany

Andrés Duany, architect, urban designer, planner and author, has dedicated over three decades to pioneering a vision for sustainable urban development and its implementation. He has influenced planners and designers worldwide, redirected government policies in the U.S. and abroad, and produced plans for hundreds of new and renewed communities of enduring value.

Steve Coyle

Stephen Coyle, urban planner, architect, and developer, is an international expert in sustainable development (, public and private engagement, and the creation of jobs/supply chain capacity building, from regional and community scale to the block and building that employ cross-disciplinary approaches. Steve is a director of the Congress for New Urbanism’s California Chapter.

Howard Blackson

An Urban Designer, site designer, and regulatory wrangler from the contextual school of thought. Howard is often leading urban design and planning projects for public and private clients throughout Southern California and around the United States. Howard is the chairman of the Congress for New Urbanism’s California Chapter.

Key Issue Areas

Sea-Level Rise Planning

Coastal Flooding; Due to sea level rise, which is dependent on elevation and soils—subsidence, porosity. Affecting subsurface electrical and transportation infrastructure.

Lowland Flooding: Overtopping banks of urbanized areas and cropland, due to accelerated snowmelt; often exacerbated by earlier engineering intervention on rivers and wetlands.

Increasing ground temperatures

Heat: Impacts humans as well as flora and fauna and even heat-sensitive infrastructure. The human health impact is relative to the customary (i.e. heat at the Equator has a lighter impact because it is customary). Heat will cause plant life to migrate gradually. (Chicago has changed the species of its street trees). Infrastructure of water supply and the electrical grid can be affected. Heat brings pests and insect-borne disease. (i.e. beetles on the Rocky Mountains).

Transportation Breakdowns

The technologies, infrastructure, and vehicles that comprise the system responsible for the circulation or mobility of people, goods, and services may be stressed due to extreme weather events and peak demand during population exodus of urban centers. Exacerbating this issue would be failures in public transit systems as a result of sea level rise or fluctuations in energy supplies.

Shifting Agricultural Patterns

The system that plans and manages the community food supply produced by local and regional agriculture, ranching, and forestry sources.

Newly arising Public Health Risks

Health: Maladies migrate with the temperature gradient, affecting plant, animal, and human species that are not resistant.

Undermined Municipal Finances

Economic Decline: Due to loss of real estate value and tax base, insurance withdrawal, abandonment, exacerbated by empty public treasury due to prior debt.

Changing Regional Economic Models

Building Failure: the high-rises of dense cities (especially the hermetic ones) can quickly become uninhabitable.

Increasing Risks From Fire

Wildfire: A phenomenon in nature, often suppressed by human activity. Natural low heat fire is replaced by high-heat fire is destructive of the plant life. Fire is a natural chronic condition in the Everglades and in the forested areas of California, but with human dwelling interspersed, it become catastrophic, similar to the effect of hurricanes in danger to life and disruption of the economy. 

Threatened Water and Electrical Supplies

Drought:  Chronic desertification, or catastrophic dry periods (multi-year cycles); can impact flora, which can lead to fire. Flora and Fauna can adapt by migration or genetic evolution to chronic conditions. Can be economically destructive to the short seasonal business cycles of agriculture.

Creating Resilient Water Utilities

Loss of Biodiversity Worldwide

Biodiversity loss is the extinction of species (plant or animal) worldwide, and also the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat

Social Instability in the Face of Uncertainty

Social Instability: Immigration, due to lack of vital resources, such as food and water, as well as the loss of dependable power and public services. Consequent outmigration (Americans have historically tended to move out of troubled or unpromising cities and regions). See also the phenomenon of gentrification of the high ground.

Shift in Weather Patterns

Heavy Rain: Increasing severity. Sometimes merely inconvenient, but causing landslides on roads and developed areas. Differentiate moving water and sitting water.

Windstorm: Increase in severity and frequency of hurricanes and other kinds storms.

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Agrarian Urbanism – is a concept that involves food not as a means of making a living, but as a basis for making a life and structuring the places in which we live. The shift in focus from “agricultural urbanism” or “urban agriculture” to the more encompassing term of “agrarian” refers to the planning initiative developed and forwarded by DPZ, promoting a type of sustainable community that intensifies agricultural activity across the Transect whilst promoting the associated economic, environmental and social benefits. This initiative has direct links with each of DPZ’s other initiatives – contributing to their goals or, in the case of Sprawl Repair, being one of the possible outcomes.(Source:


Sending/Receiving Areas

Climate Change/Climate Disruption


Sending /Receiving Areas

Chronic Conditions/ Catastrophic Events



Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z

Market Segment

Transition Towns – One of the defining aims of a typical Transition Town (or Transition Initiative, as they are also known) is to relocalise and decarbonise the economy, in order to become less dependent on the globalised, oil-dependent economy. This involves coming together as a community with the ambitious, long-term goal of using mostly local resources to meet local needs. For example, rather than relying on industrially produced food that is imported from all around the world, Transition Towns try to maximise local, organic food production and exchange. (

Intentional Urbanism

Intentional Associations (Homeowner’s, Business etc)

Defensible Space.

Transect Zones: T-1>T6 – The Segmentation of the Transect continuum is accomplished by dividing it into six different Transect Zones: Rural Preserve (T1), Rural Reserves (T2), Sub-Urban (T3), General Urban (T4), Urban Center (T5), and Urban Core (T6). While these categories work well, it is important to note that other immersive categories have been proposed that somewhat resemble the zones discussed here. Brower’s typology of neighborhoods is one example.

The Transect approach is essentially a matter of finding an appropriate spatial allocation of the elements that make up the human habitat. Rural elements should be located in rural locations, while urban elements should be located in more urban locations – not unlike natural ecological systems where plant and animal species coexist within habitats that best support them. In the Transect system, urban development is distributed so that it strengthens rather than stresses the integrity of each immersive environment. The Transect approach also controls the geographic extent of zones, disallowing the creation of large monocultures of any one particular type of Transect Zone. (Source:

Time Frames 2030 / 2060/ 2090


The Howard Equilibrium


Relocation Readiness

Private Governance

Transect Zones

Climate Change



Research & Resources