Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Punta Gorda, Florida: Climate Adaptation and Comprehensive Plans and Updates

The harborside city of Punta Gorda, Florida has responded to the threat of coastal storms and climate change impacts with two different plans - a Climate Adaptation Plan and a local comprehensive plan - to promote, manage, and protect the city’s natural resources and plan for development in a way that minimizes risks to people and property and conserves ecosystems. The Adaptation Plan is unique because it was developed through a “citizen-driven process” designed to identify effective local responses to climate change and includes a variety of adaptation options that enjoy broad community support, including managed retreat or “planned relocation.” The city incorporated the Climate Adaptation Plan into its comprehensive plan to ensure that climate change is considered in land-use decisionmaking efforts. In 2019, the city released an update to its Adaptation Plan that identifies the city’s progress to date and future adaptation actions the city could consider implementing. Punta Gorda provides a useful example of how effective community engagement can enhance adaptation planning and build community support for managed retreat strategies and how adaptation plans can be used to inform future land-use decisions to ensure safer, more resilient development.


This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies. Each case study tells a different story about how states, local governments, and communities across the country are approaching questions about managed retreat. Together, the case studies highlight how different types of legal and policy tools are being considered and implemented across a range of jurisdictions - from urban, suburban, and rural to riverine and coastal - to help support new and ongoing discussions on the subject. These case studies are intended to provide transferable lessons and potential management practices for coastal state and local policymakers evaluating managed retreat as one part of a strategy to adapt to climate change on the coast. 

For additional case studies and more information about managed retreat, also see Georgetown Climate Center’s Managed Retreat Toolkit.


Publication Date: July 15, 2020

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  • Adaptation plan
  • Best practice
  • Case study
  • Engagement
  • Plans (other)
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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