City of San Diego, California: Climate Resilience SD

On December 14, 2021, the City Council of San Diego, California adopted the city’s first comprehensive resilience and climate adaptation plan entitled Climate Resilient SD. The plan lays out a framework to address climate change impacts by identifying the four primary climate change-related hazards affecting the city — extreme heat, extreme rainfall or drought, wildfires and sea-level — and providing a set of goals, policies, and strategies to offset these hazards. The plan, which focuses on adaptation, is a new addition to previous city plans that only dealt with climate mitigation. 

The plan has four parts. The first part introduces the plan and its purpose. The second part presents a brief city profile of San Diego and relevant local policies and regulations setting the context for the adaptation plan. The third part discusses the plan’s scope, which covers the four climate-change-related hazards identified in the city’s Climate Change Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (included as Appendix B to the plan, in addition to a Coastal Erosion Assessment in Appendix C). Finally, the fourth part lays out the plan's five goals and the corresponding policies enumerated for each goal. 

These four main parts are followed by a more detailed list of adaptation and resilience strategies in Appendix A. Specifically, Appendix A presents a more comprehensive analysis to guide the city’s implementation of the plan’s goals and policies, including the climate hazards each policy addresses, the timeframe in which each policy should be implemented, the core benefits of each policy, and the associated costs.  

The Climate Resilient SD was drafted to better prepare the city of San Diego for climate change. San Diego is the second largest city in California and home to approximately 1.4 million people. It also has a diverse population and was originally inhabited by the Kumeyaay and Luiseno peoples. The city has already been experiencing the impacts of climate change. Prior to Climate Resilient SD, the city prepared a series of plans to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contributing to climate change. As a precursor to its first comprehensive adaptation plan, San Diego developed a Climate Change Hazard Vulnerability Assessment. The assessment looks at the vulnerability of San Diego’s assets dealing with public safety, water and wastewater, transportation and stormwater, and open space against the four aforementioned climate change hazards and impacts. For the assets, the assessment evaluates several factors like exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity giving them a rating of low, medium, or high vulnerability.

Based on the assessment and other findings, Climate Resilience SD lays out the city’s five main adaptation goals. The goals reflect the city’s broader adaptation vision. Then, specific policies are provided under each goal to help guide the implementation of the plan.

Goal 1:Ensure communities are connected and informed to be best prepared for climate change.

Policy CI-1: Provide easily accessible education resources and grow community awareness of climate change.

Policy CI-2: Enhance ability of communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate change impacts.

Policy CI-3: Strengthen the city’s regional partnerships to leverage and expand available resources for climate resilient actions.

Policy CI-4: Collaborate with the arts, cultural, and creative sectors to increase community awareness of and engagement with climate planning.


Goal 2: Plan for and build a resilient and equitable city.

Policy RE-1: Prioritize resilience investments and the implementation of strategies in Communities of Concern, as identified in the Climate Equity Index.

Policy RE-2: Foster vibrant, healthy, and sustainable communities.

Policy RE-3: Prioritize strategies with multiple benefits that increase the adaptive capacity of the city’s frontline communities.

Policy RE-4: Deepen community partnerships to support greater community involvement in resilience action and plan implementation.

Policy RE-5: Ensure frontline communities have resources necessary to respond to climate change impacts.


Goal 3: Safeguard, preserve, and protect historic and tribal cultural resources from the effects of climate change.

Policy HTC-1: Preserve and protect historic and tribal cultural resources against climate change impacts.

Policy HTC-2: Foster partnerships and collaboration opportunities with tribal liaisons and partners.

Policy HTC-3: Honor and share traditional knowledge of land management and cultural significance.

Policy HTC-4: Incorporate climate change considerations into historic and tribal cultural planning and stewardship.


Goal 4: Support and prioritize thriving natural environments and enhance adaptability.

Policy TNE-1: Protect environmental quality and biodiversity.

Policy TNE-2: Protect and improve the integrity of open space, habitat, and parks.

Policy TNE-3: Prioritize the implementation of nature-based climate change solutions, wherever feasible.

Policy TNE-4: Prioritize the installation of green infrastructure, wherever feasible.

Policy TNE-5: Manage the coastline as a social, economic, and environmental resource for current and future generations.

Policy TNE-6: Protect and expand the city’s urban forest.


Goal 5: Maintain and ensure minimal disruption to all critical city services in the face of climate change hazards.

Policy CCS-1: Protect public health and safety. 

Policy CCS-2: Secure and maintain water and wastewater supplies and services.

Policy CCS-3: Improve the ability of infrastructure and built systems to withstand climate change shocks and stressors, while maintaining the provision of essential services.

Policy CCS-4: Build city capacity to be responsive to future climate-change-related events and challenges.

Policy CCS-5: Consider cost, effectiveness, lifespan, and core benefits for adaptation strategy prioritization and implementation.

Policy CCS-6: Prepare the city for upcoming funding opportunities from state, federal, and grant programs to ensure the city is competitive to secure funding.


Climate Resilient SD was developed in response to California’s Senate Bill 379 and Strategy 5 of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan. Senate Bill 379 mandates that each local jurisdiction review and update its General Plan Safety Element to address adaptation and resilience strategies and requires a vulnerability assessment. In addition, Strategy 5 of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan requires the city to create a standalone adaptation plan. 

Publication Date: December 14, 2021

Related Organizations:

  • City of San Diego, California

Related Resources:

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Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

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