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. Del Mar was the recipient of two competitive state grants.  In accepting the grants, the City committed to bring forward a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of local hazards (sea-level rise, storm-surge, and coastal flooding), a long-term Adaptation Plan, and Local Coastal Program Amendment with new land use policies and implementing regulations. The City is currently working with the California Coastal Commission and Environmental Science Associates to prepare the Local Coastal Program Amendment, which will address Sea-Level Rise, Storm-Surge, and Coastal Flooding. Additional work to prepare a Sediment Management Plan, Lagoon Wetland Habitat Migration Assessment, and further amend the Local Coastal Program will follow.  Guidance is being provided by the City’s appointed Sea-Level Rise Stakeholder-Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). 

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.
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News Items

Press Release: Draft Del Mar Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Study

Draft Adaptation Plan

The Draft 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.  The first draft prepared by the City’s consultant ESA has been posted for public review since September 2016: Draft Adaptation Plan  (Large document).  Currently, the City’s technical advisory committee “STAC” is considering revisions to the Adaptation Plan in an effort to greater reflect the context and values of the City of Del Mar.  View the STAC Subcommittee recommendation posted below under meetings (upcoming and past).

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:

Upcoming City Meetings

  • January 25, 2018 (Regular STAC Meeting) - Agenda  
  • February 22, 2018 (Regular STAC Meeting)
  • March 22, 2018 (Regular STAC Meeting)
  • April 26, 2018 (Regular STAC Meeting)
  • May 24, 2018 (Regular STAC Meeting)
  • June 28, 2018 (Regular STAC Meeting)

Past Meetings

  • October 26, 2017 (STAC Meeting) - Item 4 Subcommittee Presentation - Minutes

    Subcommittee Recommended Draft Adaptation Plan Revisions

    This draft was created by the STAC Subcommittee and posted on 10/11/2017 (Chapters 1 and 3 replaced on 10/17/2017).  Due to substantial reorganization and rewrite of portions of the original Adaptation Plan draft, the Subcommittee draft is not shown in strikeout-underline.

 - (the submitted example of adaptation does not reflect an active project by the City of Del Mar)

  • September 21, 2017  (STAC Meeting) Minutes - PowerPoint
  • August 24, 2017 (STAC Meeting - Minutes
  • June 22, 2017 (Regular STAC Meeting) - PowerPoint and  Minutes
  • September 29, 2016 (regular STAC meeting) - Minutes 
  • July 21, 2016 (Regular STAC Meeting) - Minutes
  • June 9. 2016 (Regular STAC Meeting) - Minutes
  • May 5, 2016 (Community Workshop and STAC meeting) - Minutes
  • April 14, 2016 (regular STAC meeting) - Minutes
  • February 25, 2016 (Community Workshop and STAC meeting) - Minutes
  • January 14, 2016 (Community Forum) - Minutes
  • December 3, 2015 (regular STAC meeting) - Minutes
  • November 5, 2015 (regular STAC meeting) - Minutes
  • October 15, 2015 (regular STAC meeting) - Minutes
  • September 24, 2015 (regular STAC meeting) - Minutes

Work Program Documents

Work Program - Overview:
The Work Program outlines the City’s effort to address sea-level rise, storm-surge, erosion, and coastal flooding impacts.  Tasks 1 through 3 have been completed.  Task 4 involves preparation of the Local Coastal Program Amendment documents, public review and outreach, and the public hearing phase, which will involve Planning Commission recommendation and City Council hearings.  Following City Council approval, the required Coastal Commission certification process will begin.

Task 1.4:  Public Involvement Plan Task 1.4 - Public Outreach Plan FINAL.pdf
The Public Involvement Plan describes the City’s process for engaging the community, stakeholders, and the general
Task 2.1: Gaps Analysis and Data Summary Task 2.1 - Gaps Analysis and Data Summary FINAL.pdf
This memorandum presents a review and collection of pertinent data sets and documents that will be used to  
Task 2.2 – Project Planning Area Project Planning Area
The Planning Area delineates the boundaries of the areas under review as part of the Work Program.
Task 2.3 – STAC/Community Meeting Report (through December 2015) STAC/Community Meeting Report
This report summarizes the first five meetings conducted by the City’s Sea-Level Rise Stakeholder-Technical Advisory Group (STAC) through December 2015.   

Task 2.3 – Stakeholder Outreach Report (through December 2015) Stakeholder Outreach Report
This report summarizes stakeholder outreach completed through December 2015, including stakeholder presentations made at STAC meetings.
Tasks 2.4 & 2.5 -  Final Draft Vulnerability and Risk Assessment - Coastal Hazards, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (Large Document)
The Vulnerability Assessment (VA) serves as part of the underlying foundation for the Adaptation Plan (Task 3.1) and the City’s planned Local Coastal Program amendment overall.  Specifically, the VA provides an understanding of the degree of vulnerability posed to the City’s beaches, lagoons, bluffs, visitor-serving amenities, public access areas, residential/commercial, and infrastructure by examining the magnitude of risks and sensitivities associated with sea-level rise, storm-surge, and coastal flooding, and combination of sea-level rise and storms or extreme high water events.  In addition, the VA examines historical erosion and storm data along the City’s coastline, and the results of the hydrodynamic model of the Planning Area created in Task 2.2.  The Risk Assessment (RA) evaluates how expected sea-level rise impacts will affect people, development, infrastructure, and natural resources located in areas vulnerable to sea-level rise.  In addition, the RA prioritizes areas to target with sea-level rise strategies as part of an Adaptation Plan (Task 3.1).

Task 3.1 - Draft Adaptation Plan - Draft Adaptation Plan (Large Document)
The Draft Adaptation Plan will serve as the City's long-ranging planning guide for SLR management and will be integrated into the City's Local Coastal Program, and will draw from the prior work completed under Tasks 1 and 2. Specifically, the AP identifies effective shoreline Accommodation, Protection and Retreat strategies through a rigorous analysis of SLR and community/stakeholder input.


Benchmark Schedule



Project Commencement  July 2015
Community/Stakeholder Meetings - Gaps Analysis July-December  2015
Sustainability Resource Fair September 2015
Community Forum January 2016
Community/Stakeholder Meetings - Vulnerability and Risk February-April 2016
Community Workshop May 2016
Community/Stakeholder Meetings - Adaption Plan June-September 2016
Public Outreach/Prepare Draft LCPA and Fact Sheets September 2016-Summer 2017
Council Liaison Meetings: North Beach Residents/Owners April 2017
Council Liaison Meetings: Bluff top Residents/Owners August 2017
STAC Subcommittee- Recommended Revisions to Adaptation Plan July-October 2017
STAC- Recommended Revisions to Adaptation Plan October-December 2017
Planning Commission Hearing(s)- Adaptation Plan February-March 2018
STAC- Sediment Management, Wetlands, Land Use Plan, Code January-June 2018
Planning Commission Hearing(s) - Land Use Plan Code Spring 2018
City Council Hearing(s) Summer 2018
Coastal Commission Amendment Submittal Fall 2018
Coastal Commission Certification Hearing TBD

Sea-Level Rise LCP Amendment

Climate adaptation and resiliency planning is required by state law.  California Senate Bill 379 requires that local jurisdictions prepare a vulnerability assessment and update local hazard mitigation policies to address climate adaptation and resiliency strategies. The City’s Coastal Resiliency/Sea-Level Rise work program will create a long-term plan and resiliency strategy to manage the City’s shoreline and bring the City into compliance with state law.  

On December 2, 2014, the California Ocean Protection Council and Coastal Commission awarded the City a $100,000 grant, which the City matched, for work to prepare and process a Vulnerability Assessment, Adaptation Plan, and associated Local Coastal Program Amendment (LCPA) with strategies to address coastal resiliency and sea level rise-related impacts.  The work product will serve as the City’s long-range planning guide to manage the City’s shoreline areas that are vulnerable to sea-level rise, storm-surge, erosion, and coastal-flooding impacts. The local planning process began in July 2015 and includes extensive public outreach and participation opportunities for discussion and collaboration prior to City Council consideration.  After adoption by the City Council, the LCPA will be submitted to the Coastal Commission for review and certification in accordance with the terms of the grant agreement.  

To date, a draft Vulnerability/Risk Assessment and draft Adaptation Plan have been prepared.  Areas of the City that are potentially vulnerable to sea level rise-related impacts include: 1) San Dieguito Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and bordering tidelands; 2) Beachfront, beach-area and bluff-top residences; 3) City infrastructure including roads, bridges, storm drains, wastewater and utility systems; 4) Commercial development on Ocean Boulevard and in the North Commercial Zone; 5) Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds; 6) North Beach and the coastal bluff at north City limit; 7) Public beach from 29th Street south to Powerhouse Park; 8) Public beach from Powerhouse Park to south City limit, including the flanking 1.5-mile coastal bluff and rail corridor; 9) Various public access points to the coast; and 10) the Coast-to-Crest Trail, including the Lagoon Boardwalk and River Path Del Mar.   These areas comprise the “Planning Area” of the Work Program.  The LCPA is anticipated to create new policies and regulations specific to sea-level rise, storm-surge, erosion, and coastal flooding that will apply to the project Planning Area.  

On December 1, 2016, the Coastal Commission awarded the City a second grant in the amount of $211, 220. As part of the additional grant agreement, the City and ESA are reviewing the latest CoSMos data and incorporating it into the draft documents as appropriate.  A hydrodynamic model of the Planning Area will be created to provide an accurate picture of the future floodplain based on sea-level rise, storm-surge, and coastal flooding scenarios.  In addition, a Sediment Management Plan will be prepared with soft sediment management solutions to protect development and coastal resources, including beach nourishment, dune management, San Dieguito River Lagoon mouth and channel dredging (for river flood management and beneficial reuse of dredge material for beach nourishment) and integration with the Regional Sediment Management Program.  Finally, the City and ESA will assess the potential for San Dieguito Lagoon wetland habitats to migrate upstream and to upland areas adjacent to the Lagoon.  This will allow the City to complete the wetland vulnerability assessment and develop adaptation measures that facilitate migration and avoid habitat disruption. The additional data and analysis will further provide a strong scientific basis for the City’s ultimate approach to resiliency planning.
As part of the planning effort, the City is also working to meet federal floodplain management requirements.  The United States Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently completed hydrodynamic modeling studies (coastal and river flooding) and released new floodplain maps that will require amendments to the City’s Floodplain Overlay Zone regulations and maps.  The FEMA mapping appears to be consistent with the City’s draft Vulnerability Assessment and will effectively change the FEMA flood map designation for beachfront homes in the north beach area with associated implications in terms of flood insurance requirements and the design and siting of future development (public and private). See FEMA – California Coastal Analysis and Mapping Project (CCAMP) web page.

The resiliency planning and technical studies will be valuable to the City when planning for future Capital Improvement Projects in vulnerable areas, including the upgrade of systems for stormwater, wastewater, potable water, roads, and bridges. The information will also be available to the public to assist with the siting and design of private development and will help the City identify long term options and alternatives to maintain the City’s beaches and preserve the fragile ecosystems in the San Dieguito Lagoon SMCA.

City Council Members David Druker and Dwight Worden, as the Council liaisons, hosted a series of discussion forums targeted for residents and property owners in the most affected neighborhoods to discuss the associated resiliency planning work program in process.  The discussion covered information discussed in prior STAC community/stakeholder meetings relating to the process, the local Vulnerability and Risk Assessment, draft Adaptation Plan strategies (including various natural and engineered solutions), affected Floodplain and Coastal Bluffs areas, obligations for document deliverables to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and California Coastal Commission related to floodplain mapping and sea-level rise, what sea-level rise looks like, when action will be required based on identified “triggers”, how monitoring will be used to measure and evaluate that a trigger is approaching, the benefits of planning ahead, the cost of no action, and next steps in the planning process.  On April 12 and 25, 2017, discussion forums were held for North Beach neighborhood.  (See power point.)  On August 14, 2017, a similar discussion forum was held for residents and owners in the coastal bluff neighborhoods.  (See power point.)

At  the state and regional level, similar planning efforts are underway.  The San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative is helping local jurisdictions and public agencies across the San Diego region to coordinate planning efforts, share expertise, and leverage resources related to climate change planning.  Their Resilient Coastlines Project has produced several key documents currently available to the public including the Coastal Commission’s March 20, 2017 adaptation planning guidance, a sea level rise-related legal risk analysis, economic analyses, and other policy and legal tools at

On September 29, 2017, the City provided comments in regards to the Coastal Commission’s draft Residential Adaptation Guidance in order to reinforce the importance of accounting for local context and affording flexibility for conflict resolution to occur at the local level.  (See Letter to Coastal Commission)  City staff is in process of amending the schedule within the City’s grant agreement to allow more time for outreach prior to formulating draft Local Coastal Program amendment documents.


STAC Committee Members:

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

Council Liaisons:
Staff Contacts:
Information requests, notification list registration, and general inquiries should be sent to: