Advocacy at the South Bay Association of REALTORS®

Coastal Commission puts off major policy on sea level rise impacting properties on the coastline

The California Coastal Commission today at its monthly meeting in Redondo Beach, Calif. passed a resolution addressing sea level rise and shoreline preservation, while postponing a more comprehensive guidance document which could lead to broader mandates on permitted land uses along the state’s coastline. These two items together look at sea level rise due to global climate change and broadly discuss options for protecting lives and properties on the shore.

The growing body of scientific evidence is increasingly clear about the impacts of global climate change, which appears to include projected sea level rises that in some areas could hit ten feet above their current levels by the year 2100. What is not clear is how and whether local cities, the state legislature, or the Coastal Commission itself should take actions to protect lives, private properties, and the public’s right to access the state’s beaches.

Among some of the more controversial actions include whether to regulate “shoreline armoring” – i.e. seawalls – which may impact the natural replenishment of sand on beaches, and whether local city councils should retain control over land use decisions at the coastline.

In particular, a strategy known as “managed retreat” suggests that human developments, including private homes, should pull away from the coastline as the sea encroaches and levels rise. As stewards of private property rights, Associations of REALTORS® up and down the California coast have expressed concerns that these rights be maintained and that property owners be able to make their own informed decisions. Meanwhile, REALTOR® Associations and other concerned parties called for more public review and more clarity on the the costs and details of managed retreat and other strategies.

Any policy guidance from the Coastal Commission as it relates to sea level rise is, so far, not being mandated because of the postponement of this resolution. However, the matter is likely to be considered in the near future.

This item has been updated to clarify the action taken by the California Coastal Commission at its meeting on August 9, 2018 in Redondo Beach.