Sea-Level Rise Local Coastal Program Amendment

The City of Del Mar has demonstrated great leadership and commitment to actively plan for sea-level rise to protect local beaches, coastal bluffs, and environmental resources and minimize impacts to residents, businesses, and visitors. After years of public outreach, discussion, and over 25 public meetings, the City Council will consider in September 2018 whether to adopt the package of Local Coastal Program Amendments and technical documents relating to Del Mar’s Coastal Resiliency/Sea Level Rise Planning Work Program. In addition to meeting various state and federal obligations, the purpose of this effort is for hazard planning to occur through a rational, scientifically grounded process to protect the future of Del Mar instead of waiting to react.

The City’s grant agreement with Coastal Commission requires City approval of the following documents (by 10/31/18): Del Mar’s Final Coastal Hazards, Vulnerability, and Risk Assessment; Sediment Management Plan; Wetland Habitat Assessment; Adaptation Plan; Local Coastal Program (LCP) Land Use Plan Amendments; and LCP Zoning Code Amendments. All documents are available for review below (Major Grant Tasks) and are consistent with the City’s priorities for adaptation through beach nourishment/management, river channel dredging, and flood management; and continued implementation of the City’s Beach Preservation Initiative. The City concluded that planned retreat is not necessary or feasible in Del Mar. Therefore, planned retreat is not a proposed strategy; and will only be re-evaluated with future planning and plan amendment if it becomes necessary and feasible.

Generous grants from the California Ocean Protection Council, California Coastal Conservancy and California Coastal Commission, together with supplemental funding from the City of Del Mar, have made this work program possible.

Coastal-ConservancyCA-Ocean Protection ConcilCalifornia Ocean Protection Council

News Items

On October 1, the City Council took actions to implement the City’s Sea Level Rise Planning/Adaptation approach as follows:

  • Adopted Local Coastal Program Amendment LCPA 16-005 (same Adaptation Plan previously approved by Council May 21, 2018)
  • Directed staff to prepare and process a Community Plan Amendment to incorporate the Adaptation Plan and local Hazard Mitigation Plan by reference.
  • Accepted the supporting technical documents: Vulnerability Assessment, Sediment Management Plan, and Lagoon Wetland Habitat Assessment.
  • Directed staff to return to City Council with a Resolution for the benefit of the community to reiterate the City Council’s commitment to continue to reject managed retreat during the Coastal Commission LCPA certification process.
  • Adopted the Land Use Plan Amendment portion of LCPA 18-002 by Resolution.
  • Continued the public hearing for the Ordinance (ZA 16-008)/ LCPA 18-002) with direction to proceed with the code amendments, but with no rezone or expansion of the existing overlay zone boundaries; and to instead rely on the existing Coastal Bluff Overlay Zone map and FEMA map for the Floodplain Overlay Zone.

View the October 1, 2018 Report to the City Council (PDF) and the Coastal Commission comment letter (PDF).

On October 15, the City Council is being asked to take the following additional actions:

  1. Adopt the Commitment Resolution to reiterate the Council’s commitment to reject managed retreat during the Coastal Commission certification process.
  2. Review and confirm the adopted LCP Land Use Plan Amendments Resolution accurately reflects the Council action on October 1.
  3. Introduce the Ordinance to amend DMMC Chapter 30.29 (Floodway Zone), Chapter 30.55 (Coastal Bluff Overlay Zone), and Chapter 30.56 (Floodplain Overlay Zone) with no change to the overlay zone boundaries.

View the October 15, 2018 Report to City Council (PDF).

Press Release: Draft Del Mar Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Study (PDF)

Adaptation Plan

The Del Mar Adaptation Plan will serve as the City's “toolbox” to help property owners (public and private) plan for and address future sea-level rise, storm surge, coastal flooding, and erosion. On May 21 the City Council approved the Adaptation Plan with one minor change to the Executive Summary and Section 3.6 to delete a statement to clarify the City's favored adaptation approach. On October 1, 2018, the City Council adopted the Adaptation Plan as a Local Coastal Program Amendment and accepted the supporting technical documents including the Vulnerability Assessment, Sediment Management Plan, and Lagoon Wetland Habitat Assessment. Visit the City’s Agenda Center to view staff reports, correspondence, minutes, and meeting videos.


Following are resources for monitoring data relating to the City’s sea level rise planning work program:

Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Mitigation Project for Restoration of the San Dieguito Lagoon

SANDAG- Regional Shoreline Monitoring Program

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Adaptation Strategies

In June 2017, Nexus Planning & Research prepared a comparative cost-benefit analysis (using information provided by the City of Del Mar and City of Carlsbad) as part of a larger regional project led by the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative. The analysis included an evaluation of potential damage or loss to “at-risk” properties in Del Mar’s North Beach area and the cost of no action versus various adaptation scenarios to protect, adapt, or abandon/retreat those properties. The main takeaway is that the highest return on investment may be realized if beach nourishment is utilized in the near term and paired with sand retention (i.e. groins); and that the highest cost to the City is associated with a choice to take no action at all. One of the lessons learned is that “project and site-specific information is necessary to provide more detailed cost estimates.” The study also recommends “that financial feasibility not be assessed until any preliminary design is accomplished, based on a more thorough consideration of coastal processes, regulatory and environmental opportunities and constraints, and engineering.” View the study here:

Legal Risk Analysis of Adaptation Strategies

In June 2017, the Environmental Law Institute prepared a legal risk analysis for sea level rise adaptation in the San Diego region as part of a larger project led by the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative. View the study here:

The California Coastal Commission also prepared an analysis of the legal context of adaptation planning within the State of California. View the Commission’s legal analysis here in Chapter 8:


STAC Committee Members


  • Chair: Terry Gaasterland – Email Terry Gaasterland
  • Vice Chair: John Imperato - Email John Imperato
  • Kristin Brinner
  • Gabe Buhr (CCC)
  • Robin Crabtree
  • Kim Fletcher
  • Dustin Fuller (22nd DAA)
  • Mark Handzel
  • Sarah Giddings
  • Laura Pierce
  • Nancy Stoke

Council Liaisons

Staff Contacts:

 Information requests, notification list registration, and general inquiries should be sent to the Sea Level Rise email.