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Three-quarters of D.C. metro residents say they support laws to stop building in high-risk areas

A new Zillow survey finds that most residents are worried about climate change

A waterfront area along the Anacostia River is shown flooded. Water is overtaking a park bench, and there are buildings and a bridge in the background.
Flooding along the Anacostia River
Shutterstock

July was the hottest month on record across the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.N. No wonder, then, that more than half of D.C. area residents say they think climate change will affect their homes or communities “a great deal” or “somewhat” during their lifetimes, per a recent survey by real estate data company Zillow.

Fifty-two percent of area residents said so, according to the results of Seattle-based Zillow’s “Housing Aspirations Report,” a semiannual survey of 10,000 homeowners and renters in 20 of the biggest U.S. metros. That’s right around the national average, but below the rates for several metro areas, including Miami, San Jose, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

Still, 77 percent of D.C. area residents said they support laws to prevent building in areas at high risk of disruptions induced by climate change—the highest share of any metro, though tied with New York, reports Zillow. Two-thirds said they favor requiring homeowners to buy disaster insurance in such areas. “Young adults are much more likely to recognize the reality of climate change-related risks to their homes and communities,” Skylar Olsen, the director of economic research at Zillow, said in a statement. Here is a data breakdown by metro area:

A bar graph of 20 large U.S. metro areas and the shares of their residents who say climate change will affect their homes or communities somewhat or a great deal in their lifetimes.
U.S. metro areas by share of residents who say climate change will affect them
Zillow

Nationally, 71 percent of those surveyed said they support laws prohibiting construction in high-risk areas while 58 percent said they support mandating that homeowners in high-risk areas acquire disaster insurance. But only 42 and 27 percent, respectively, said they support higher taxes to fund climate change infrastructure and the relocation of at-risk communities:

A bar graph of various climate change policies by share of those who say they support such policies.
Climate change policies by share of those who say they support such policies
Zillow

The survey shows political divides as well. Across the country, 78 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Republicans, and 70 percent of Independents said they support laws restricting development in high-risk areas. But 43 percent of Republicans said they did not expect any significant impacts from climate change while 63 percent of Democrats said they expected to be affected “a great deal” or “somewhat” by it. Among age groups, young adults 18 to 34 were the most likely to say they would see significantly impacts from climate change in their lives:

A bar graph showing shares of people who say they think climate change will affect them by degree and age group.
Shares of people who say they think climate change will affect them by degree and age group
Zillow

In the D.C. area, it’s not just residential areas that residents and experts are worried about in regards to climate change. The Tidal Basin and the cherry trees are at risk of severe flooding.