City of Santa Monica Climate Action & Adaptation Plan

In May 2019, the Santa Monica City Council adopted the Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP), a living document that outlines strategies for achieving carbon reduction and climate resilience goals by the year 2030. The CAAP traces a pathway to achieving carbon neutrality while also fostering the implementation of a four-pronged climate adaptation framework to address the impacts of climate change experienced by members of the community. Relating to adaptation, the CAAP outlines 8 resilience objectives among four sectors: Climate Ready Community; Water Self-Sufficiency; Coastal Flooding Preparedness; and Low Carbon Food & Ecosystems.

The climate adaptation framework works to combat climate change vulnerability through bolstering resilience of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems to survive, adapt, and grow in spite of gradual climate impacts and environmental hazards. The CAAP contains both Climate Action and Climate Adaptation policy directives. Throughout both parts of the plan and under each sub-section, actions are arranged alongside a scale for carbon reduction potential, and symbols are used to represent the predicted community benefits for each adopted policy.

The actions suggested in the Climate Ready Community portion of the adaptation framework aim to prepare civilians for the changing climate, protect threatened populations, and integrate climate change into planning processes and project development. One action aims to identify locations for the potential implementation of resilience hubs, cooling centers, and disaster assistance and supplies, while also building a network of Neighborhood Resilience Hub Programs to prepare and protect residents from climate hazards. Other actions include providing early warning systems in multiple languages, creating design guidelines for climate-resilient buildings, and developing contingency plans for transportation when roads are inoperable due to coastal flooding or wildfires.

Another feature of the adaptation framework is diversifying Santa Monica’s water supply through increasing recycled water production, as well as updating and expanding local water production and conservation efforts. In preparation for coastal flooding due to sea-level rise, the city has prioritized “soft” adaptation strategies such as managed retreat, beach nourishment, living shorelines, and dune restoration. The CAAP prescribes plans to support local food sources and carbon sequestration strategies, through ocean vegetation, to increase coastal longevity and health.

The CAAP recognizes equity as a central community theme in climate action. It underscores that vulnerable groups, who tend to be older, people of color, lower on the socio-economic spectrum, and/or don’t speak English as their native language, face the disproportionate effects of climate change while lacking access to resources to overcome impending challenges. Equity is used as a lens through which policies are made to prioritize the needs of at-risk communities. 

For example, the report emphasizes that the homeless, outdoor workers, and seniors, are put at high-risk by increasing trends of extreme heat. Accordingly, the CAAP recommends an outdoor safety program to inform best practices for outdoor employees and to increase access to cooling centers and water throughout the city, as well as an expansion of tree canopy in vulnerable neighborhoods. These collective measures aim to create equitable and sustainable living conditions for those most susceptible to rising temperatures.

The CAAP was developed over a three-year period through the collaboration and engagement of various city stakeholders. To achieve sustainability goals, the City Council established “Climate Change” as a Framework Priority for the Fiscal Years 2019-2021 budget, and allocated $383M to climate action and adaptation projects with the intention of increasing this amount in the coming years.

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Related Organizations:

  • City of Santa Monica, California

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  • Adaptation plan

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