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 www.santabarbaraca.gov/slr. 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.