Governor Hochul Signs Legislation to Protect New Yorkers from Increasingly Frequent and Extreme Flooding

Legislation (S.5186-A/A.5221-A) directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to prioritize nature-based solutions to stabilize shorelines

Legislation (A.1967/S.5400) requires flooding disclosure when buying homes

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation to protect New Yorkers from flooding as storms become increasingly frequent and extreme. Legislation (S.5186-A/A.5221-A) requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to implement permit regulations and guidance pertaining to nature-based solutions for shoreline management. Legislation (A.1967/S.5400) requires sellers to inform home buyers as to whether a property is located in a flood risk area or has previously flooded. This legislation underscores Governor Hochul’s commitment to climate resiliency and the safety of New Yorkers.

"Today marks a monumental step forward in our mission to protect New Yorkers from the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events,” Governor Hochul said. “This legislation highlights our commitment to restoring natural habitats, which are our greatest natural barrier for extreme flooding, and safeguarding New Yorkers from the long-term dangers of flooding.”

Legislation (S.5186-A/A.5221-A) amends the environmental conservation law to require the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to authorize and encourage the use of nature-based solutions to stabilize tidal shorelines in the state and provides such solutions should be considered when promulgating and implementing rules and regulations relating to such.

State Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, “After Hurricane Ida, many constituents reached out to me for assistance with flood damage. I was happy my office could help individuals, but the systemic impact of climate change requires much more. In the face of increased risk of flooding and climate change related hazards, it is critical we take proactive measures. Living shorelines can protect against flooding, improve water quality, and strengthen our resilience. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this important legislation into law. I also thank my colleague Assemblyman Steve Otis for championing this legislation in the Assembly and Save the Sound and Riverkeeper for their work inspiring this bill in their efforts to combat climate change and for working with my office on this legislation.”

Assemblymember Steven Otis said, “Living shoreline principles are vital to improving coastal resilience, reducing flood impacts, preventing shoreline erosion and protecting natural habitats. Thanks go to Governor Kathy Hochul, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Riverkeeper, The Nature Conservancy, Save the Sound and other environmental groups who support these important policies. This is important legislation for coastal communities that will help advance nature-based policies at a time when sound practices are needed.”

Legislation (A.1967/S.5400) establishes a flood risk “right to know” for homebuyers. Previously sellers could opt that the buyer get a $500 credit at closing and the disclosure requirement was waived. This legislation eliminates the “credit provision” and requires the disclosure of information concerning flood risk, flood history, and flood insurance on real property transactions.

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, “During Climate Week NYC, we’re especially mindful of the devastating effects of the climate crisis in our local communities, including extreme weather events such as flooding. In response to this new reality, our flood disclosure legislation being signed today requires flood risk information to be provided to home buyers, giving them the necessary tools to make educated purchases. I’m extremely grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this legislation during Climate Week, along with Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the Assembly sponsor of our legislation, Bobby Carroll.”

Assemblymember Robert Carroll said, “As we work to fight climate change, we also have to take measures in response to the harm it is causing. I am glad to see Governor Hochul signing my legislation A.1967/S.5400, which will help New Yorkers by ensuring that they have the information they need to best protect their homes against flooding at the time of making a home purchase.”

Riverkeeper Senior Manager of Government Affairs Jeremy Cherson said, “Governor Hochul’s signature of the Living Shorelines Act and Flood Risk Disclosure legislation marks a major step forward for climate resilience in New York State. Responsible management of shorelines along tidal waterways, as envisioned in the Living Shorelines Act, will help ensure that permitting decisions support natural shorelines that provide habitat for wildlife as well as flood protections for communities. With Flood Risk Disclosure, New York will increase transparency around climate risk in our real estate market, empowering home buyers with information about the flood risk to their potential property. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for recognizing the importance of our shorelines in promoting biodiversity and thriving communities, as well as your commitment to climate risk disclosure.”

Save the Sound Vice President of Water Protection David Ansel said, “After several years of work, we’re thrilled to see the Living Shorelines and Flood Disclosure bills become law. The Governor’s signature and the overwhelming support in the legislature show New York’s leaders understand that we must take action to adapt to the stronger storms and rising sea levels of climate change. Using natural features such as native marsh grasses and shellfish reef instead of hardened structures like seawalls benefits shoreline communities, wildlife, and water quality. Ensuring transparency about flood risks helps individuals and communities make wise decisions for their futures. We thank Governor Hochul and the bills’ sponsors for their leadership. Now we look forward to working with partners across the region to these bills’ promise into healthier, more resilient coastlines and communities.”

Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Conservation Director Roger Downs said, “There is no doubt that the ravages of climate change will continue to pound New York’s coastlines and inland waterways with increasingly severe floods and storm surges.Attempts to harden our shores with expensive sea walls will only exacerbate the problem of erosion, as hardscaping intensifies the destabilization of surrounding property, beaches and embankments.We applaud Senator Mayer and Assemblymember Otis for establishing a blueprint for prioritizing nature-based solutions to sea-level rise and flooding.And with her signature of this law, Governor Hochul is building upon a legacy of inspired stewardship of ecosystems starting with the $4.2 billion dollar bond act and new comprehensive wetlands protections, both designed with the understanding that New York will be most resilient to climate change if we protect and enhance the tapestry of ecosystems that protect us.”

Natural Resources Defense Council Attorney for Water Initiatives Joel Scata said, “Too many homeowners learn of their property’s propensity to flood only after suffering through multiple disasters. That's why New York State's decision to disclose these risks is so important. This bill goes a long way towards helping give home buyers the information they need to make informed decisions about one of the biggest financial investments of their lives — their home. In 2021 in New York, 7,645 homes were purchased that were estimated to have been previously flooded; and the estimated annual flood damages for these sold homes is over $23 million.”

New York Policy and Strategy Director for the Nature Conservancy Jessica Ottney Mahar said, "The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Hochul for enacting legislation that recognizes the importance of working with nature – from beaches and dunes to freshwater wetlands and saltmarshes – to protect people, wildlife, and infrastructure in our changing climate. Natural shorelines are a critical piece of improving quality of life and community safety in cities and towns throughout New York State. The Nature Conservancy applauds bill sponsors Senator Mayer and Assemblymember Otis for their dedication and leadership on this important issue.”