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.
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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 City Council here and the Coastal Commission comment letter here.

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 here

 Press Release: Draft Del Mar Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Study

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:

Upcoming City Meetings


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 - Progress Update:

Following is an update on various tasks for the coastal resiliency/sea level rise planning work program. Preparation of the Local Coastal Program Amendment documents involves public review and outreach prior to the public hearing and approval phase. Much of the public discussion occurs through the STAC meeting forum and is followed with noticed public hearings by the decision makers: Planning Commission (recommendation), City Council, and California Coastal Commission.

Major Grant Tasks:

  • Coastal Hazards, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment –  Coastal Hazards, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (Large Document) - Addendum to the 2016 Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (Large Document)
    The Assessment used best available science to identify vulnerable areas in Del Mar that are subject to projected sea-level rise, storm-surge, river flooding, coastal flooding, and erosion. Vulnerable City facilities include the fire station, public works yard, sewer lift station, beach access points, public roads, sewer lines, and storm water systems. The most recent addendum to this document can be viewed here.

  • Adaptation Plan – Adaptation Plan approved by City Council May 21, 2018
    The Adaptation Plan provides a variety of adaptation strategies and approaches and will serve as the City's “toolbox” to help property owner’s (public and private) plan for and address the vulnerabilities identified by the Coastal Hazards, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment. (Required public hearings are in process.)

  • LCP Code Amendments – Amendments to the City’s certified Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan to amend the existing Floodway Zone, Coastal Bluff Overlay Zone, and Floodplain Overlay Zone.


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
Planning Commission Hearing- Sediment Management, Habitat Assessment June 2018
Planning Commission Hearing(s) - Land Use Plan Code August 2018
City Council Hearing(s) September 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

On April 30, 2018, the City submitted a second comment letter to the Coastal Commission in regards to their revised “Guidance” document.


STAC Committee Members:

  • Chair:  Terry Gaasterland –
  • Vice Chair:  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: