Addressing Sea Level Rise


Newsletter from Supervisor John Leopold 9/5/19

On a continuing basis, we are seeing the impacts of climate change and sea level rise occurring on a local, state, national and global level at a much faster pace than expected. As a result, the California Coastal Commission revised their guidance about sea level rise to include the most recent sea level rise projections and to help characterize the future of development on our coastline and its impact on coastal access. Their new guidance calls for managed retreat along the coastline. You can read their guidance here. Now our county has to revise our Local Coastal Plan (our land use and development guiding document) with this Coastal Commission guidance and these sea level rise projections in mind.


At the beginning of October, the Board will be reviewing significant proposed changes to our coastal land use plans that will affect everyone in the county. Currently, County Planning staff is proposing that we continue to allow property owners to maintain their seawalls within most of the Urban Services Area and ban their installation outside that area. Within the First District, armoring would not be allowed near Schwan and Moran Lakes or near Corcoran Lagoon. Any new maintenance or construction in the allowable areas would need to be offset by sand mitigation fees, intended to mitigate the sand loss resulting from the covering of natural cliffs and bluffs and their concurrent erosion. These fees would be a major new cost for coastal property owners but seek to balance the needs of protecting our coast, protecting people’s property and acknowledging the inevitable rise of the ocean. You can read the new items from the Planning Commission meeting by clicking here. Santa Cruz County will be one of the first communities to adopt a revised Local Coastal Plan that takes into account the new sea level rise guidelines. Clearly, there is a lot at stake. I encourage you to read up on this important issue and stay informed as we work to prepare our community.