Celia Sanchez Zelaya

MIT Department: Urban Studies
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, San Diego
Faculty Mentor: Miho Mazereeuw
Research Supervisor: Larisa Ovalles, PhD
Website: LinkedIn

2019 Research Poster


I was born in San Salvador, El Salvador but raised in El Monte, California. Currently, I’m a rising senior at the University of California, San Diego where I double major in Urban Studies and Planning – Design/Built Environment and Political Science – American Politics. The research that I associate with is in the interdisciplinary field of urban planning and policy. My goal is to bring comprehensive and sustainable solutions to public transportation, housing, and infrastructure. Through obtaining a Ph.D., I want to diversify the field of city planning by communicating and elevating the voices of the most marginalized. My hobbies include exploring new music, reading, and drinking coffee.

2019 Research Abstract

Criticism and Analysis of Effective Hazard Mitigation Strategies for Housing in Pre and Post Disasters

Celia Sanchez Zelaya1, Larisa Ovallesand Miho Mazereeuw3

1Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of California, San Diego
2,3Urban Risk Lab, School of Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Natural disasters and climate change will drastically create difficulties for states, municipalities, and cities to be prepared for damage and adaptation. It will become important for preparedness plans to be preventative rather than reactionary against any potential damages made to communities. Hazard plans have been implemented throughout the U.S. and its territories as a way to plan for pre and post disasters, but their level of success is largely unknown. The most common strategies include development regulation and land-use management, building standards, natural resource protection, public information and awareness, incentive tools, property acquisition programs, financial tools, critical public and private facility policies, and public-private sector initiatives. To see how effective existing hazard plans for housing are, we reviewed 33 case studies and reflected on 3 specific cases under different circumstances such as location and type of disaster and that used either planning, design, and policy as a determinant for their approach. The parameters included the disaster cycle, stakeholders, planning types, cost, the feasibility of implementation and investment. Other analyses include interpretations of their level of success through the takeaways and challenges. The results show that preparation and maximum use of federal programs can reduce the cost for residents and their respective areas, but there are implications to marginalized groups that can suffer at the cost of these strategies. The conclusion of the comparative research will provide governments various strategies on how to better serve their communities based on their unique situations, facilitate the decision-making process and learn from their mistakes.