The Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document was unanimously adopted for use by the Coastal Commission on Wednesday, August 12, 2015. It 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.

2018 Draft Science Update

Since the 2015 adoption of the California Coastal Commission Sea Level Rise (SLR) Policy Guidance, sea level rise science and statewide guidance have evolved. New recommendations from the Ocean Protection Council have prompted a set of focused updates to the 2015 SLR Policy Guidance to better reflect current best available science. Draft changes to the Guidance can be viewed from the link below. Main changes include updating projections and references to best available science, which is now considered the 2018 OPC State Sea-Level Rise Guidance. Changes are summarized on page 4 of the Draft Science Update.

The Draft Science Update was presented at the September Coastal Commission Hearing (Item W6g). The informational presentation can be viewed here. The Draft Science Update will be considered for adoption at the November hearing. Public comments on the focused science updates can be sent to Please submit comments by 5 p.m. on October 12, 2018.

For assistance or more information, please contact:
Kelsey Ducklow | Statewide Planning Unit | (415) 904-2335

Changes in Draft Revisions

August 2015 Adopted Guidance

The adopted Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance includes revisions that resulted from Commission discussions and two public comment periods. The most significant of these revisions include:

  • A discussion of Safeguarding California and recent Executive Orders
  • 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, as well as the unique challenges faced by low-income communities
  • A revised chapter on sea level rise adaptation strategies, including additional strategies
  • An expanded chapter on the legal context of adaptation planning, with additional detail on seawalls in the context of existing and new development
  • New text clarifying the scope of the document and potential applicability to other planning documents
  • New text recognizing the increasing demand for funding for sea level rise adaptation planning
  • Additional Next Steps describing future Commission work

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.

Official Staff Response to Comments

Two previous drafts of the Guidance document were released for public comment in October 2013 and May 2015. Testimonies were received at several Commission meetings and outreach events, as well as by written comments. Commission staff responded to all written comments and considered feedback as the final, now adopted, Guidance document was prepared. To view the Commission staff responses to comments, click on the button below.

Contact Us

Commission staff will be organizing a number of training events related to the adopted Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance in the future. Details will be posted on the Sea Level Rise page under the News, Important Dates, & Upcoming Events section as they become available. Announcements will also be shared via the Sea Level Rise Mailing List, which can be subscribed to by completing the form below.

To request specific training or a copy of previous drafts of the Guidance document, please email Commission staff at Subscribe to the SLR Mailing List below.