Rising Seas, Coastal Erosion, and the Takings Clause: How to Save Wetlands and Beaches Without Hurting Property Owners 

This law review article discusses ways in which states can protect their public trust lands from sea-level rise while remaining respectful of property owners' rights and investments. The article examines land use planning options by which coastal states might retain some of their public trust tidelands 'in perpetuity' no matter how much the sea rises, at least in areas that have not yet been developed.

Three policy options are compared including using setbacks, deferring action, and using public trust (rolling) easements that have a shifting boundary. The difficulties presented by setbacks, namely in the drawing of a setback line, and their potential to deny landowners their property rights as the shore disappears is addressed. The rolling easement is presented as a tool that could establish landowners' expectations early, and, when used in combination with other land use tools, could provide a legally safe and effective means of mitigating the impact of sea-level rise.

Publication Date: 1998

Author or Affiliated User:

  • James Titus

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Resource Types:

  • Legal Analysis


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