Carlsbad, California Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

This report from the City of Carlsbad, California - located along the state’s southern coast - evaluates the magnitude and likelihood of impacts due to sea level rise and coastal hazards on city assets. The report considers damage to assets from flooding and erosion based on sea level rise scenarios through 2050 and 2100. Vulnerability ratings are given by asset type, along with recommended adaptation strategies to inform planning, decision-making, and the city’s Local Coastal Program and Zoning Ordinance.

The study was divided into three planning zones - Northern, Central, and Southern portions of Carlsbad. The vulnerability of assets within each zone were assessed by category type: Beaches, Public Access Ways, State Parks, Parcels, Critical Infrastructure, Transportation, and Environmentally Sensitive Lands. Most asset types were determined to have moderate overall vulnerability by 2050.  State Parks were considered to have moderate to high overall vulnerability, and the transportation sector was assessed to have high vulnerability by 2050.

The report refers to the California Coastal Commission Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance for developing adaptation strategies to address the city’s vulnerabilities. Among the various adaptation alternatives identified by the state, the report recommends a number of strategies for Carlsbad such as: 

  • beach nourishment projects
  • berm or dune system construction
  • landward relocation of public assets
  • management of existing hard shoreline protection
  • building and zoning code revisions that incorporate flexibility for climate adaptation
  • development of rolling easements along the oceanfront
  • development setbacks revisions
  • development of a repetitive loss program

Adaptation projects recommended for areas particularly vulnerable to sea level rise - i.e. low-lying beaches, low-lying estuaries, and bluff-backed shoreline segments - include managed retreat, dune restoration, beach nourishment, sand retention with nourishment, elevating structures, coastal armoring, and movable foundations.


Publication Date: December 2017

Related Organizations:

  • City of Carlsbad, California


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:


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