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The Seas are Rising and so are We!

The seas are rising and so are we! Friday, July 12 is your chance to speak up for beach preservation and smart climate change adaptation policies for your favorite beach and the entire coast of California! The California Coastal Commission will be holding a joint workshop on sea level rise adaptation and short-term rentals for local governments with an opportunity for public comment from 9am to 4pm on Friday, July 12 in San Luis Obispo at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Public comment will be held at noon and limited to 1-2 minutes per speaker. Check out the full agenda here and the staff report with more information here.

The Coastal Commission has faced a lot of opposition over
the past few months from developers, blufftop and beachfront homeowners to the
progressive climate change adaptation policies recommended in their draft Residential
Adaptation Guidance

Surfrider’s voice is needed to speak on behalf of the
beach-going public, coastal communities, and livelihoods that depend on healthy
beaches. Surfrider’s stance is that the progressive policy recommendations
listed in the Residential Adaptation Guidance, including recommendations on
managed retreat and a preference for soft armoring and green infrastructure
solutions will benefit all Californians.

If you’re able to attend – and counteract all those who will be organized in opposition to protecting our beaches and waves, choosing to sacrifice them to protect private development instead – let us know! Contact Surfrider’s California Policy Coordinator, Mandy Sackett, at We’re happy to help set you up with some talking points if you’d like to address the Commission. And don’t forget to wear a blue t-shirt!

You can also submit comments online! Scroll below for a draft e-mail template - feel free to customize and add more personal comments. E-mails should be sent to -

The outlook for sea-level change is clear. Coastal California
is already experiencing the early impacts of a rising sea level, including more
extensive coastal flooding during storms, periodic tidal flooding, and
increased coastal erosion. The data from the state’s sea level rise guidance is
alarming. For example:

  • Based on current worldwide emissions trajectories, the California coast will likely experience between 2 to 3 feet of sea-level rise by the end of the century;
  •  Under extreme sea level rise projections, the California coast could experience rates of sea-level rise above 2 inches per year by the end of the century, leading to potential sea-level rise exceeding 10 feet. This rate of sea-level rise would be about 30 to 40 times faster than the sea-level rise experienced over the last century.

To put this into practical terms, according to the recent National
Climate Assessment, sea level rise and storm surge could completely wipe out
two-thirds of southern California beaches by 2100. And, USGS researchers
describe the rising sea level as a greater threat to the California economy
than wildfires or extreme earthquakes, with effects hitting as soon as 2040.

Considering this data, the Coastal Commission has no choice but to implement a combination of adaptation policies. However, its vital to protect our coast from hard armoring alternatives that will only exacerbate beach erosion, drown our waves and reef habitats.

Even though managed retreat has been met with opposition due to threats to property rights, longstanding legal principles acknowledged by the California and United States Supreme Courts support the Coastal Commission’s authority to implement managed retreat where necessary. Because it is the Coastal Commission’s duty to protect the coastline for all Californians, Surfrider urges the Commission to adopt the Residential Adaptation Guidelines as drafted.

Submit written comments using this e-mail template:

I am writing to support the California Coastal Commission's Revised Draft Residential Adaptation Policy Guidance (Guidance) and encourage adoption as currently written. Emerging research continues to add to the urgency and importance of sea level rise planning:

  • Several recent studies have shown that impacts from flooding already have hamstrung property prices and cost Hampton Roads homeowners hundreds of millions of dollars in lost or unrealized values.
  • If we don’t act now, the costs of sea level rise and climate change adaptation will increase exponentially. The National Institute of Building Sciences found that mitigation funding can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs, for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation.

The California Coastal Commission has been a national leader on coastal adaptation and must continue to play this role. It is imperative that the Coastal Commission issues clear guidance for long-term coastal hazard planning, and not a piecemeal approach that may result in insufficient adaptation responses, as local governments work to update their local coastal programs.

A majority of California’s beaches are at risk of disappearing from sea level rise. As a beachgoer, it is vitally important to me that the Coastal Commission protect our coast and beaches. I support an adaptation approach that includes living shorelines, planned relocation, avoidance of hard armoring structures, and preservation of coastal habitats and recreational opportunities. A trigger-based approach is a realistic alternative that allows plenty of flexibility for varied adaptation pathways.

Thank you for your commitment to protecting California’s coast for future generations.


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