Author goes by the book when it comes to the changing coast
Brian Seals – Sentinel Staff Writer
Article Launched: 11/10/2005 12:00:00 AM EST

About the only thing that has not changed along the California coast during the past 20 years is that people are still willing to spend big bucks to live as close to a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean as possible.

Other than that almost everything has changed “” a rising sea level, increased population, spiraling real estate prices and winter storms and earthquakes. But these have far from dampened the appetite for perching a house on the beach or a bluff.

UC Santa Cruz geology professor Gary Griggs and a cast of equally credentialed contributors explore the dynamics the state’s shoreline in a recently released book titled “Living with the Changing California Coast.”

“The title is very clear,” Griggs said during an interview at Long Marine Laboratory on the Westside of Santa Cruz. “The question is, can you hold back 10,000 miles of Pacific Ocean no matter how many seawalls you build?”

And that has been the preferred approach to combating waves that have pummeled houses, condos and apartments during the El Nino years that have hit the West Coast.

About 3 percent of the state’s coast had some kind of structure to hold back crumbling bluff when the 1985 book was penned. The latest version shows that about 107 miles, or 10 percent, of the California coast has such structures.

“I think the biggest thing was the amount of coastline that has been armored,” Griggs said. “That has been the response to these El Nino events.”

In some cases, a glimpse of historical photos tells the story. A 1982 photo illustrates coastal bluff erosion while a 1983 picture shows lumber washing onto Seacliff State Beach, just to name two examples.

The book is being used as text in a course Griggs teaches, but he said the information would be useful to civic planners, realtors and about anybody living close to the coast. A chapter written by Charles Lester, deputy director of the state Coastal Commission in the Santa Cruz office, outlines the state’s coastal policies.

Other well-known names from the Monterey Bay region who authored chapters include Gerald Weber, a formr UC Santat Cruz geology professor, and Kim Fulton-Bennett, comunictions associate at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Insitute.

The big message from the book “” know history and the change of seasons of the coast.

“You need to know what happened on that site during the last 50 years,” Griggs said.

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Gary Griggs will give a presentation on his new book at a special event at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center on at 6 p.m. Nov. 17. There will be a wine and cheese reception afterward; admission is $10 for the general public, $6 for members.

Griggs will also discuss the book at Bookshop Santa Cruz at 7:30 p.m. tonight.