Sea-Level Rise

The Commission owns and manages millions of acres of sovereign lands and resources that it holds in trust subject to the common law Public Trust Doctrine. If unaddressed, sea-level rise can have catastrophic consequences for these lands and resources. The Commission works hard to facilitate sea-level rise preparedness, with an emphasis on protecting California's public trust lands and the public's right to access and enjoy these lands. The Commission partners with the Legislature and federal, state, and local agencies to stay at the forefront of efforts to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise on the lands and natural resources entrusted to its care.

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.

Photo of waves crashing on rocks in the pacific oceanVast 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.


What's New

  • State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance 2018 Update
    The State of Sea-Level Rise Guidance 2018 Update (CA Ocean Protection Council) reflects recent advances in sea-level rise science to assist state agencies and local governments incorporating sea level rise into their planning, permitting, and investment decisions. This resource describes strategies and opportunities for adaptation to ensure a more resilient coast.
  • Rising Seas in California, an Update on Sea-Level Rise Science (2013)
    Produced by a working group of the CA Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT), supported and convened by the CA OST. The State of California SLR Guidance doc—adopted in 2010 and updated in 2013—provides guidance to state agencies for incorporating SLR projections into planning, design, permitting, construction, investment, and other decisions.
  • State Lands Commission's Sea-Level Rise Viewer featured by NOAA
    NOAA's Digital Coast website features the State Lands Commission Sea-Level Rise Viewer in their "Story From The Field" series. The comprehensive, interactive viewer was created to help agency staff members and lessee partners understand potential risks to infrastructure, natural habitats, and coastal communities from sea-level rise. With the Viewer, staff can visualize and compare various sea level rise scenarios at different scales along the California coast, as well as overlay sea level rise, sensitive habitats, critical infrastructure, and social and economic data, onto a lease area for a more comprehensive picture of vulnerability.
  • Safeguarding California Plan: 2018 Update
    California's Climate Adaptation Strategy, January 2018

Mapping Tools and Resources

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

Proactively Planning
for Sea-Level Rise Impacts

In 2013, 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.

Additional Information

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.