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 the power point (PPT).) On August 14, 2017, a similar discussion forum was held for residents and owners in the coastal bluff neighborhoods. (See the power point (PPT).)
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.
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 (PDF))
On April 30, 2018, the City submitted a second comment letter (PDF) to the Coastal Commission in regards to their revised “Guidance” document.