The National Association of Counties, which represents local governments, said its members must weigh environmental issues along with economic ones. “Both are important,” Paul Guequierre, a spokesman, said.
If local governments follow public opinion and impose new restrictions on development, it’s important that they consider the effects of those changes on poorer communities, including communities of color, said R. Jisung Park, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, who focuses on climate adaptation.
While many vulnerable areas have wealthy residents drawn to the scenery, others are home to low-income families, including minorities, who can’t afford to live elsewhere, Dr. Park said. Development restrictions that increase costs could hurt those communities, he added, even if they reduce disasters in the future.
One approach would be for governments to make it more expensive to live in vulnerable neighborhoods, but subsidize low-income residents who want to move, Dr. Park. Doing both “is certainly possible,” he said.
The survey shows support for that approach. Asked whether governments should offer people money to move their homes away from risky areas, 59 percent of respondents said yes, including 46 percent of Republicans.
Getting governments to do more to protect against climate change might be easier than it seems, Ms. Chapman-Henderson said. She recalled a home builder who said to her: “No one has ever stormed city hall demanding a stronger building code. But the day they do, they’ll get it.”