California might be in the midst of one its worst droughts in history, but the Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted to accept a $235,000 grant at its Tuesday meeting last week to study the impacts of coastal storm and sea level rise. The California Ocean Protection Council gave the grant.
Officially the “Local Coastal Program Sea Level Rise Adaptation Grant,” Santa Monica is receiving the $235,000 stipend to address climate preparedness and adaptation planning.
According to City staff, doing a coastal storm and sea level rise impact analysis “would build on the work already completed in the City of Los Angeles to provide a comprehensive look at the impacts of rising sea-levels in the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Region.”
“The funds would be used for the development of a shoreline change model. Information gathered by this examination would provide valuable data to the City in the development of a local climate preparedness and adaptation plan,” City staff stated.
Accepted as part of the council’s consent calendar, the grant would complement Santa Monica’s 15×15 Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2015.
City staff stated the sea level rise grant is the first step in evaluating “potential threats to the public, environmental, and economic health of the city” and developing “a strategic adaptation plan to mitigate the potential negative effects of climate change.”
The sea level rise vulnerability study was developed in 2011 as part of USC’s Sea Grant Program.
“One of the primary findings from this study was the recognition that the beaches along the coastline drive a $17 billion local tourism economy and serve as the first line of defense against rising seas,” City staff stated. “Understanding how local beaches respond to accelerating sea level rise and the associated coastal impacts from rising seas and more powerful storms is critical for local municipalities tasked with protecting and managing resources, life, property and economic interests along the coastline.”
Those behind the program at USC reportedly sought to fill an “information gap” of unavailable data regarding sea level rise and coastal change impacts.
As future storms finally arrive in Santa Monica and the surrounding region, this grant would allow the City to develop a shoreline change model to assess the coastal impacts of sea level rise. The model would also study the “varying degrees of coastal storms.”
“The high resolution, dynamic model would incorporate storms, sea level rise and shoreline change and provide the City of Santa Monica, and other coastal communities in the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Region, with detailed information to inform the development of climate preparedness and adaptation planning processes,” City staff stated.
City Hall would collaborate with 11 regional jurisdictions to execute and manage the sea level rise and coastal storm analysis. Other organizations supporting the study include USC’s Sea Grant Program, Los Angeles Regional Collaborative on Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC), the California State Coastal Conservancy, Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC), and the U.S. Geological Survey.