Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy for San Diego Bay, California

The San Diego Bay Sea Level Rise Strategy provides a regional approach to sea level rise adaptation, and is a foundation to guide coordinated adaptation planning among participating local jurisdictions. The strategy was prepared by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, and resulted from the efforts of a collaborative, regional stakeholder process undertaken as part of the San Diego Regional Climate Protection Initiative, a partnership with the San Diego Foundation and all local governments in the San Diego region.

The strategy consists of two primary components: a vulnerability assessment that evaluates how community assets could be impacted by sea level rise, and recommendations for building the resilience of those community assets. An appendix of additional resources, such as a Management Practices Toolbox, a sample vulnerability assessment survey, and a strategy evaluation matrix are included - all of which may be helpful to planners in other areas of the country.

The vulnerability assessment revealed that in the next few decades, the greatest cause for concern will be an increase in the kind of flooding that the region already experiences due to waves, storm surge, El Nino events, and very high tides. The most vulnerable sectors in the community include stormwater management, wastewater collection, shoreline parks and public access, transportation facilities, commercial buildings, and ecosystems.

Ten “comprehensive strategies” were identified, encompassing multiple impacts, sectors, assets, and time frames. In addition to these comprehensive strategies, a set of “targeted strategies” were developed to address the specific vulnerabilities of each community sector - which are described in detail the report.  For the targeted strategies, the vulnerability assessment findings are presented in greater detail, and recommendations for potential adaptation policy responses to each primary vulnerability are suggested. The section is organized by 11 sectors that framed the vulnerability assessment and resulting recommendations: Ecosystems and critical species; Contaminated sites; Stormwater management;  Wastewater; Potable water; Local transportation facilities; Building stock; Emergency response facilities; Parks, recreation, and public access; Regional airport operations; and Vulnerable populations.  Many of the recommendations in this strategy are intended for consideration and implementation in each of the participating local jurisdictions in their own planning processes, such as Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plans in the City of San Diego and Port of San Diego, and in bayfront planning in Chula Vista.


Publication Date: January 2012

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  • Adaptation plan

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