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The Recommended Final Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document provides an overview of the best available science on sea level rise for California and recommended methodology for addressing sea level rise in Coastal Commission planning and regulatory actions. It is intended to serve as a multi-purpose resource for a variety of audiences and includes a high level of detail on many subjects. Since the document is not specific to a particular geographic location or development intensity, readers should view the content as a menu of options to use only if relevant, rather than a checklist of required actions.

At the August meeting in Chula Vista (on Wednesday, August 12th, 2015), the Commission will hear public testimony, discuss the Recommended Final Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document, and potentially take action on it. A revised draft of the Guidance was introduced at a June 2015 hearing, and the chapter on adaptation strategies was further detailed at a July 2015 hearing. During both of these, public testimony was also received. Additionally, Commission staff presented a webinar to and gathered comments from LCP grantees on June 24th, offered public webinars and heard comments on June 26th and July 7th, and has received written comments on the revised Guidance.

Changes in Draft Revisions

August 2015 Recommended Final Draft

Following the public comment period for the revised draft Guidance released in May 2015, a number of revisions were made to the document to address the questions and feedback received. Changes to the Recommended Final Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document are identified by underline/strikethrough in the PDF. The most significant of these include text added to:

  • Seawall and Other Shoreline Protective Devices (Chapter 8), expanding the discussion of seawalls in the context of existing versus new development, and addressing considerations of highly urbanized areas
  • Clarify that the intent of this Guidance is to focus on LCPs and CDPs, though much of the content is also applicable and potentially useful for other planning documents
  • Guiding Principle #9, Chapter 4, and the planning processes outlined in Chapters 5 and 6, recognizing the unique challenges faced by low-income communities
  • Chapter 5 to recognize the increasing demand for funding for sea level rise adaptation planning
  • Provide additional adaptation strategies in Chapter 7, specific to ports (Section A), marine protected areas and the beneficial re-use of sediment (Section C), and retrofitting stormwater infrastructure (Section D)
  • Provide additional next steps in Chapter 9, including future Commission work to enhance coordination with and assess the sea level rise impacts to low-income and underserved populations, and coordination with Port Authorities and other relevant stakeholders to address vulnerabilities to ports and other coastal-dependent resources

May 2015 Public Review Draft

Many alterations were made to the Guidance document following the First Public Review Draft. The most significant of these included:

  • A new section on using scenario-based analysis to approach sea level rise planning
  • A new section on storms, extreme events, abrupt change, and sea level rise
  • A new section on sea level rise adaptation planning and environmental justice
  • A revised chapter on sea level rise adaptation strategies, including additional strategies
  • A new chapter on the legal context of adaptation planning

These revisions were coordinated with other California state efforts related to climate change and adaptation, including the 2014 Safeguarding California document produced by the California Natural Resources Agency. The revised Draft reflects the broad concepts and strategies in Safeguarding California - particularly the Coast and Oceans chapter - and complements it by providing information specific to the Coastal Act, including Local Coastal Programs and Coastal Development Permits. A discussion of relevant presidential and gubernatorial Executive Orders has also been incorporated to the document.

Submitting Comments

Written comments on the revised Guidance were requested by COB Friday, July 10, 2015 so that Commission staff could consider them when preparing the document for possible Commission action at the August meeting. The Commission will receive additional public testimony on the Guidance document at this meeting, on Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 in Chula Vista.

Official Staff Response to Comments

The revised draft of the Guidance document was released for public comment on May 27, 2015. Since then, Commission staff received 28 comment letters. Each comment has been responded to and feedback was incorporated to the Recommended Final Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document.

More than 100 individual comment letters were received for the initial draft and were considered in developing the May 2015 draft.

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