Sea-Level Rise

The Commission owns and manages millions of acres of sovereign lands and resources that are held in trust for the public to use and enjoy. Sea-level rise poses a growing threat to California's public lands and resources. The Commission's efforts are helping prepare for sea-level rise. The Commission is incorporating sea-level rise and climate change considerations into its work and is committed to ensuring that the State's coastal regions and navigable waterways are protected and publicly accessible.

Latest News

Image of report cover for the CA Coastal Commission's Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance
Sea-level Rise Policy Guidance (California Coastal Commission, 2015)
The Sea-level Rise Policy Guidance document provides an overview of the best available sea-level rise science for California and recommended methods for addressing it in planning and regulatory actions, with a focus on Local Coastal Programs and Coastal Development Permits.

What's to come

Photo of the Twinlakes Flood

Climate models indicate that sea-level could rise by nearly 66 inches (167 cm) by the end of this century, exacerbating the effects of existing natural hazards, including storms and high tides. California's coastline will change as sea-levels rise, which will have many consequences for sovereign public trust lands, resources, and assets, and may lead to significant environmental, social, and economic impacts.

Vast state-owned lands and resources under the Commission's jurisdiction will be affected by rising sea-levels. 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 critical coastal and bay infrastructure, and may affect the boundaries between sovereign public trust lands and privately owned uplands, which may reduce or eliminate public access along the coast.

Photo of waves crashing on rocks in the pacific ocean

The Commission is a land and resource trust manager and thus has significant influence over development and uses of public trust lands that will be affected by sea-level rise. As discussed under Interagency Coordination, 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. Through continued collaboration; commitment to science-based, comprehensive, and transparent policy development; and focused education efforts, the Commission and its staff are dedicated to protecting and enhancing the public’s interests in the lands, resources, and assets under its jurisdiction as sea-level rises.

Mapping Tools and Resources

Resources for analysis and evaluation of impacts related to sea-level rise.

Assembly Bill 691

AB 691 (Muratsuchi), Chapter 592, Statutes of 2013, was enacted to address sea-level rise impacts on granted public trust lands. Granted lands include some of the State’s most significant contributors to local, state, and national economies, such as the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, and Oakland. AB 691 requires trustees of granted lands with annual gross public trust revenues exceeding $250,000 to prepare and submit to the Commission an assessment of their sea-level rise adaption strategies, including potential impacts to existing structures and future development. Assessments must be submitted by July 1, 2019. Commission staff is available to assist grantees with completing their sea-level rise assessments. For grantees, click here to learn more about how to prepare and submit your sea-level rise adaptation assessment for AB 691.

Interagency Coordination

Commission staff contributes to state and regional efforts to prepare and adapt to sea-level rise. Staff is a member of several interagency workgroups and initiatives, including the Coastal and Ocean Resources Working Group for the Climate Action Team, the State Coastal Leadership Group on Sea-Level Rise, and the California Collaborative on Coastal Resilience. Staff also serves on the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and contributes to BCDC’s efforts to develop strategies to address regional sea-level rise and improve preparedness.