Portions of Carlsbad are located within the California Coastal Zone, which is subject to the California Coastal Act. The California Coastal Commission is responsible for ensuring cities within the Coastal Zone implement the Coastal Act. In August 2015, the Coastal Commission adopted the “Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance” that provides guidelines for cities to address the impacts of sea level rise.
Global sea level has been rising due to both the warming of the oceans, which causes sea water to expand, and the melting of glaciers. As the Coastal Commission’s guidance document states, “increasing global temperatures are causing significant effects at global, regional and local scales. In the past century…average global sea level has increased by 7 to 8 in (17 to 21 cm) (IPCC 2013)…While the California coast regularly experiences erosion, flooding, and significant storm events, sea level rise will exacerbate these natural forces, leading to significant social, environmental, and economic impacts. The third National Climate Assessment notes that there is strong evidence showing that the cost of doing nothing to prepare for the impacts of sea level rise exceeds the costs associated with adapting to them by about 4 to 10 times (Moser et al. 2014). Therefore, it is critically important that California plan and prepare for the impacts of sea level rise to ensure a resilient California coast for present and future generations.”
The California Coastal Commission and the California Ocean Protection Council awarded the city with two grants to conduct an analysis of the local impacts associated with long-term sea level rise, develop strategies and measures to address those impacts, and update the city’s Local Coastal Program and Zoning Ordinance.