Sea Level Rise

There are numerous threats to California’s coastal and bay communities and infrastructure from sea-level rise.  Vast state-owned lands and resources under the Commission’s jurisdiction will be affected by rising sea levels.  Because of their nature and location, these lands and infrastructure are already vulnerable to natural hazards, including storms and extreme high tides.  While some of these lands remain in a natural state, significant portions have been developed pursuant to leases issued by the Commission or through legislative grants to local jurisdictions.  Future sea-level rise is expected to compound the effects of natural hazards on existing coastal and bay structures and may reduce or eliminate public access along the coastline in some areas.

The Commission, as a land and resource trust manager, has significant influence over on-the-ground development and uses of public trust lands that will be affected by sea-level rise.  Commission staff is collaborating with federal, state, and local agencies to plan for and mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise on the lands and natural resources under its jurisdiction.

reference materials

  • Sea-Level Rise: a Slow Moving Emergency - Assembly Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy report on sea level rise, including key findings and a set of policy recommendations from the Chair. 

  • Little Hoover Commission report: Governing California Through Climate Change - Recommendation 5: The Governor should work with key state agencies such as the Attorney General’s Office, State Lands Commission, Coastal Commission and other public and private coastal interests to clarify the impact of sea level rise on California’s Common Law Public Trust Doctrine. A collective dialogue should seek ways to create a legal framework in advance of crisis and prevent litigation and instability as a rising ocean begins to condemn private property on the Pacific coastline.

  • Adapting to Rising Tides - the ART Project - is a collaborative planning effort to help San Francisco Bay Area communities adapt to rising sea levels.

  • Cal-Adapt - Sea Level Rise: Threatened Area Map - Global models indicate that California may see up to a 55 inch (140 cm) rise in sea level within this century given expected rise in temperatures around the world.  The following map tool displays areas that may be in threat of inundation during an extreme flood event (100 year flood).  

  • California Climate Adaption Planning Guide - These documents provide guidance to support regional and local communities in addressing the unavoidable consequences of climate change.

  • CA Coastal Commission (CCC) Global Warming and Climate Change Resources - On this page you'll find information useful for coastal development applicants, local governments, and the general public.

  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) Climate Change Planning Program - The San Francisco BCDC provides valuable information on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies involving the Bay Area.

  • Ocean Protection Council's (OPC) Climate Change Program - The OPC continues to work with the Coastal Conservancy, and Coastal Commission to promote coastal adaptation planning and science. This site contains grant availability, guidance and policy resources and a list of funded projects.

  • OPC’s Sea Level Rise Resolution - Resolution of the California Ocean Protection Council on Sea Level Rise adopted on March 11, 2011.

  • OPC's Update to the Sea Level Rise Guidance Document - March 15, 2013 - OPC staff presented an update to the State of California Sea Level Rise Interim Guidance Document. The purpose of the SLR Guidance remains the same, to help state agencies incorporate future sea level rise impacts into planning decisions, but has now been updated to include the best current science, as summarized in the final report from the National Academy of Sciences, Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.

  • Minute Item 49 - A one-year status update on implementation of the recommendations of the Report on Sea Level Rise Preparedness adopted by the Commission at its December 17, 2010 meeting.

  • Sea Level Rise Resurvey - This is a follow-up survey report dated July 23, 2010 that assessed the extent to which the state’s major local government trustees of state tide and submerged lands and the Commission’s major lessees had considered the potential impacts of sea level rise on facilities located on state Public Trust lands.

  • Minute Item 39 - Commission action on December 17, 2009 in response to the staff’s report entitled, “A Report on Sea Level Rise Preparedness”.

  • Sea Level Rise Report - This December 2009 staff report was prepared at the request of the Commission to address concerns on the issue of sea level rise, the extent to which major local government trustees of state tide and submerged lands and the Commission’s major lessees had considered the potential impacts of sea level rise on facilities located on Public Trust lands. The report also included a summary of the efforts of California, federal agencies, and other coastal states, and a set of recommendations to lessen the impacts of sea level rise.

  • Governor’s Executive Order S-13-08 - Governor Schwarzenegger signed this order on November 14, 2008 to create statewide consistency in planning for sea level rise. The executive order calls for, among other things, the completion of a Sea Level Rise Assessment Report, the consideration of sea level rise scenarios for the years 2050 and 2100, and the development of a Climate Adaptation Strategy.