Since the beginning of time, the Santa Barbara shoreline has undergone continuous change. The coastal bluffs and beaches that line the shoreline have faced erosion, slope failure, wave impacts, and coastal flooding. With global sea level rise, it is projected that the frequency and intensity of these hazard events will increase with the rising seas. According to the National Resource Council, sea levels are projected to rise 2-12 inches by 2030, 5-24 inches by 2050, and 17-66 inches by 2100.
Currently, the best available sea level rise model for Santa Barbara is the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS), which maps coastal flooding and shoreline changes that may occur with incremental amounts of sea level rise and various storm scenarios for the entire California coastline. CoSMoS can be used to improve our understanding of coastal vulnerabilities in Santa Barbara and how to plan, prepare, and respond to various storm scenarios. And, it currently is being used across the State and by many Federal, state, and local agencies for that purpose. CoSMoS differs from previous sea level rise modeling efforts in Santa Barbara, in that the outputs reflect where impacts are likely to occur, rather than what the worst possible impact might be.
The City has begun the process of developing a Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan that will assess the City’s vulnerabilities to sea level rise and analyze the feasibility, economic impacts, and environmental consequences of various adaptation strategies for the low-lying and coastal bluff areas of the City. Findings from the plan will be incorporated into the policies and development standards of the City’s Local Coastal Program. In 2016, the City was awarded grant funds from the California Coastal Commission for development of a Sea Level Rise Adaptation from 2017 through spring of 2019. Development of the plan will involve stakeholder involvement and a public outreach program.
For more information on the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan please contact Melissa Hetrick, Project Planner, City of Santa Barbara Planning Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-564-5470 ext. 4556.