Public Workshop on Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

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Source: City of Santa Barbara

The City of Santa Barbara will be hosting the first in a series of public workshops on a Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan.  The first workshop will be from 6:00pm - 8:00pm on December 5th 2018 at the Louise Lowry Davis Center (1232 De La Vina Street) and will include a formal presentation on the Draft Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment.  Afterward, there will be an opportunity for members of the public to view maps and ask questions to learn more about sea level rise in the City and strategies that can be explored to address anticipated impacts. The Draft Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, along with associated draft hazard maps, are now available at  Hard copies of the document are also available for review at reception on the 2nd floor of the City’s offices at 630 Garden Street and the Central Library (40 East Anapamu Street).  

The Draft Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment identifies the areas of the City that are projected to be affected by sea level rise and related hazards through the year 2100 without any intervention.  The Vulnerability Assessment will inform the development of a local Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan that will evaluate various adaptation strategies to reduce coastal vulnerabilities associated with sea level rise. These plans are part of a program funded by the California Coastal Commission and California Coastal Conservancy to assist local governments in meeting new State requirements addressing sea level rise.

Although Santa Barbara has experienced a relatively small amount of sea level rise to date, the rate of sea level rise in the region is expected to accelerate significantly in coming decades.  Rising sea levels will result in increased hazards, including shoreline erosion and flooding. 

“While we have time until sea levels in Santa Barbara rise substantially, the impacts to the City will be significant and require extensive planning and financing to address,” said Kristen Sneddon, Councilmember and Chair of the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan Subcommittee. “It is crucial that we prepare now while we have the most options open to us.”

The following are physical effects of sea level rise on the City that are projected to occur without any adaptation:

  • Waterfront and low lying areas of downtown:  Impacts are projected to be mostly limited to the area seaward of Cabrillo Blvd through the year 2060.  By 2100, however, flooding from regular high tides and coastal storms is expected to extend north of Cabrillo Blvd to Highway 101.  Low lying areas north of Highway 101 that currently flood during extreme storms will see a higher frequency of flooding during storms. 
  • Beaches:  By 2060 most of the sandy beaches in the City’s westerly coastal bluff areas are likely to be lost from beach erosion.   By 2100, all of the sandy beaches in the westerly coastal bluff areas and approximately half of the sandy beaches in the low lying Waterfront area could be lost. 
  • Coastal bluff areas:  Coastal bluff erosion rates could increase by 40% by 2060 and 140% by 2100.  The increased erosion rates would threaten bluff top infrastructure, private development, and public development. By 2100 erosion could extend to Shoreline Drive, Cliff Drive, and other bluff top streets at several locations.
  • Major infrastructure:  By 2060 portions of the wastewater system could be affected by tidal inundation and storm flooding.  By 2100 El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant is likely to be permanently inoperable as currently designed.  This would impact wastewater service for the City’s entire service area, including service to inland residential and commercial areas. Most major streets in the coastal area are not likely to be significantly impacted by 2060.  However, by 2100, portions of Cabrillo Blvd, Shoreline Drive, Cliff Drive, and Highway 101 could be impacted by erosion, tidal inundation, or storm flooding. 
  • Harbor and Stearns Wharf:  By 2060 the effects of sea level rise could impede some harbor functions and storm waves would likely significantly impact Stearns Wharf.  By 2100 the Harbor is expected to be unusable without major reconstruction.


After finalization of the Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, the next step is to develop an Adaptation Plan that will address the effects of sea level rise over time.  The Adaptation Plan will analyze the feasibility, effectiveness, economic and fiscal impacts, environmental consequences, and other costs and benefits of various adaptation strategies.  Three general categories of adaptation strategies will be evaluated:  1) protection of development in place through measures such as seawalls, groins, tide gates, and beach nourishment; 2) accommodation of development in place through measures such as elevation or modifications of structures; and 3) retreat through measures such as relocation of structures and development limitations.  A second public workshop will be held when the Draft Adaptation Plan is available in spring 2019.

For more information or to provide input, please visit or contact Melissa Hetrick, Project Planner, City of Santa Barbara Planning Division at [email protected] or 805-564-5470 ext. 4556.

Public Workshop for the Draft City of Santa Barbara Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Louise Lowry Davis Center
1232 De La Vina Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
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Shasta Guy Nov 29, 2018 10:39 PM
Public Workshop on Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

Sea Dog, your eyes are more valuable than any global warming model. I figure we are about a decade away from manmade global warming from joining piltdown man and canals on Mars. Too many failed dramatic predictions since the late 1980s that we’re supposed to be caused by rising temperatures from rising CO2. Streets in Manhattan are not yet innundated, snow did not become a thing of the past, the ice free arctic never occurred, polar bears did not become less numerous and instead sea turtles freeze to death. People who do not tow the party line are called “deniers” or anti-science in a deragotry, mean spirited way. I think the next sun spot will be quite telling. We’ll either slip into a cooling period due to low sun spot activity or the failed predictions will reverse course and show that CO2 has been in control the whole time.

sea dog Nov 29, 2018 10:06 AM
Public Workshop on Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

I keep hearing about the ice caps melting and the sea levels rising ... but water expands when it freezes and contracts when it melts? As a harbor user I have not seen a sea level rise in 40 years? Finally, we are in a grand solar minimum and are setting cold records all over the world. It seems a strange time to be worried about global warming ... You need to worry about having a good coat !

a-1590873624 Nov 29, 2018 10:43 AM
Public Workshop on Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

Deniers? We've been lied to by government since the beginning of government. Sure, call me a climate change cynic but I follow the money and take government announcements with nothing more than a grain of salt. For my eyes, there is a lot of money to be made in carbon credits and "climate change mitigation".

Shasta Guy Nov 29, 2018 07:27 AM
Public Workshop on Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

Take a look at this article from the Bay Area on this very topic: If you’re not careful you might find your home or business located in a newly designated future flood zone due to global warming. This may impact insurance rates or the ability to modify your property. This appears to be going on all up and down the state since the language used in the article is the same as our local press release.

Factotum Nov 28, 2018 09:38 AM
Public Workshop on Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

The city's misdirections knows no bounds. We are drowning now in city employee pension debt (half billion dollars) and nary a task force nor public meeting to address this flood of red ink that is consuming us right now, as we speak. Stop voting for the same city employee union interests, election after election. Get this city back in control.

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