Tracking Coastal Adaptation: Implementing California’s Innovative Sea Level Rise Planning Database

Tracking Coastal Adaptation is a policy brief from the UCLA Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment regarding A.B. 2516, a 2014 law that requires California to develop a publicly accessible online database of sea-level rise planning actions taken by state agencies and selected other entities. This policy brief provides recommendations to the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), Ocean Protection Council (OPC), and California Legislature regarding how to harness A.B. 2516 to enhance coastal climate change preparedness in California.

With input from a team of coastal adaptation experts, co-authors Megan Herzog (Emmett Institute), Susanne Moser (Susanne Moser Research & Consulting/Stanford), and Sarah Newkirk (The Nature Conservancy) offer recommendations on the content, format and functionality of the new database, including potential survey questions and indicators to incorporate.

The report suggests A.B. 2516 should be seen as a planning tool that can play an integral role in the development and promotion of coordinated, integrated, and effective state policy to protect California's coasts from sea level rise.

Specific recommendations are given regarding useful indicators that would facilitate measurable tracking of adaptation progress and appraisal of adaptation preparedness, building on work previously conducted in coastal California and on the West Coast. The indicators fall into six general categories:

  1. capacity,
  2. process,
  3. decision-making and information,
  4. actions/implementation accomplished to date,
  5. barriers overcome, and
  6. outcomes.

Other example key recommendations from the report are:

The CNRA and OPC should survey entities to obtain data that - whenever possible - is quantifiable and relates to metrics regarding entities’ adaptation capacity, actions, and progress, and that will, over time, enable database users to evaluate the pace and effectiveness of adaptation activities in California.

To gain a fuller picture of coastal adaptation efforts and the state’s preparedness for coastal climate change impacts, the CNRA and OPC should, as administrative resources allow, seek information from coastal municipalities and counties on a voluntary basis even though local governments do not fall under the data disclosure requirements of A.B. 2516.

Over time, the CNRA and OPC should consider adding tools to enable users to view relevant geospatial information in interactive maps.



Publication Date: May 2015

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Megan M. Herzog
  • Susanne C. Moser
  • Sarah Newkirk

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:


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