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.

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.

Mapping Tools & Resources

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

AB 691 - 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. Assessing the impacts of sea-level rise for legislatively granted Public Trust lands is a management priority for local trustees. Trustees with average annual gross revenue from their trust lands that exceed $250,000 are required to prepare and submit to the Commission, by July 1, 2019, an assessment of how they propose to address sea-level rise. The following criteria, resources, and tools are meant to assist trustees with their sea-level rise assessment. The Commission strives to be a resource for and provide assistance to the state's legislative trustees in their management of Public Trust lands and resources and is available to assist trustees with their sea-level assessment.

Latest News

Additional Resources for Addressing Sea-Level Rise

While not exhaustive, this list contains some useful resources for analysis and evaluation of sea-level rise-related impacts, including maps and GIS layers, surveys, studies, and assessments. This list will be updated as new information becomes available. State of...

State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance 2018 Update

The State of California 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.

What’s to Come

Photo of the Twin Lakes Flood by David Revell, PWAClimate 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.