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Sea Level Rise Could Sink California Property Values

An aerial view of the King Tides near Bird Rock and La Jolla, De. 4, 2017.
Nicholas McVicker
An aerial view of the King Tides near Bird Rock and La Jolla, De. 4, 2017.
Sea Level Rise Could Sink California Property Values
Sea Level Rise Could Sink California Property Values GUEST: Erik Anderson, environment reporter, KPBS News

More than 1000 homes in San Diego County risk chronic and disruptive flooding over the next 30 years due to sea level rise. That is one conclusion of a national study by the union of concerned scientists released today. The report is a wake-up call for both private property owners and the governments that rely on their property taxes. It warns that the effects of global warning can put up to 20,000 homes in California at risk by 2045. Here to tell us more about the report is trying to environment reporter Eric Anderson. Up until now, homeowners along our beautiful coastline are mostly concerned about bluffs and beach erosion threatening their properties. How does the report refocus their concerns? Seeing what this report does that other reports have not yet done is it takes basically two data sets. A data set from the national oceanic atmospheric Association that predicts the possibility of sea level rise of either lowrise and midrise and severe rise. And then it over race -- overlays property data that combine those data stats. The reason they did that is they want to get a sense of not only where physically properties might be at risk, but how many those properties are and what their value might be. Because there are implications that if you lose hundreds of millions of dollars with the properties along your coastline, it will be tough for your government to charge property tax on those properties. >>> What did this report find out? >> They found out a lot of things. This is a national report. They looked at the coastlines around the United States. It found that California, the risk is not the amount of property that is at risk, even though we have a long shoreline. It is the value of the property that is at risk. There are other areas in the country, Florida for example, it is a low state that could lose a lot of property but the value of the property is not as high as it is in California. The same for Louisiana, New Jersey. Those three areas, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, are predicted to be losing a lot of actual land that is included there. It will have severe impacts that way. California will not lose that big slice of land. But the slice of land we will use his heavily populated, people like to live near the coast. It is also among the more expensive land in the state. >>> What are they saying will happen to these homes ? >>> A number of these things can happen. It is not necessarily the homes on the bluff top will tumble off. They are saying that it will get to the point that when the property value will go down because her might be consistent flooding. At least 26 times a year. That property might be flooded. Not because of storms but because of the normal up and down of the ocean during normal flows. The California coastline is not the same all along. San Diego is a good example of that. You have communities like Delmar that are lower and beach like communities where they consider what they can do in the future among the things they are considering is the managed retreat away from the ocean which is politically controversial. You have communities like Imperial Beach that are low-lying communities that are already feeling the effects of ocean waters that are overwhelming their stormwater systems. There is more frequent flooding in that particular area. And then you have other communities along the Oceanside Bluffs where homeowners are worried about erosion underneath the cliffside so it threatens the property that is well out of reach of the ocean. There are a number of different kinds of environments and situations and solutions as well to be considered. >>> We have a clip from the planet Scientist with the union of concerned scientists Christina Doll who is issuing a wake-up call to homeowners. See in if you are invested in the real estate market, it is important to know how exposed your investments are. Coastal residents need to advocate for the tools and resources and fundings the community needs to assess their risk and evaluate the response option. >>> What kinds of resources are is she resorting to that you referring to? >> I think she's talking about if you have a bluff top home, you want to honor the coastal cliffs of the properties do not succumb to erosion as quickly. If you are in an area like San Diego Bay, the Port of San Diego already look at strategies of building up the rip trap so that the coastal properties can deal with the rising ocean levels. If you are in an area that has Still of the -- some of the coastal levels, you might want to look at expanding those and beefing those up so that they can serve as a bigger cushion. Maybe a strategy you look at if you are along the beach area is putting more sand to protect from winter waves and the extraordinary high tides. I think that there are a number of different resources. Manager tran Delmar is moving back from the coastline. But you have to weigh where the quality is and where the political will is to make those decisions and what works best for each community. >>> The report talks about millions of property taxes at risk. >> The reason that is a concern is because if you have coastal properties that are no longer worth what they were, that means local municipalities can no longer taxes property owners at the same level. It will dip into their ability to raise taxes. They will not have the money they need for public safety or repairing roads and streets and bridges or other kinds of development. There is a real world impact even for people who don't live at the shoreline of this encroaching ocean. >>> The report suggests that 80% of the people at risk may not face these consequences if we take action to reduce climate change. Do you consider this report in an effort to raise the awareness about the implications of doing things like the rolling back of the Paris --. >> They said look Noah has seen different potential outcomes. There could be a dramatic increase in sea level rise and medium level, or a low level. If you want to get to the low level of sea level rise and contain the problem, that would require altering the environment we live in. Reducing greenhouse gases and doing those sorts of things. If we do nothing or we enhance the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the atmosphere, we will be living with a higher levy -- level impact scenario. And then there is middle ground. I think that they are not suggesting that things can be done. But I don't think someone who is steeped that's what does not take someone steeped in science to understand that our actions have consequences.

Sea level rise over the next two decades could put more than 20,000 California homes at risk.

A new study of rising sea levels finds that more than $15 billion worth of private property is at risk in California over the next 25 years.

The Union of Concerned Scientists combined property records from Zillow and ocean prediction data to examine the impact nationally. Other parts of the country had more land at risk, but that land is not as populated as the California Coast.

The findings along the California coast did surprise the researchers who compiled the report.

RELATED: King Tides Apply Pressure To San Diego Coastline

"The area exposed may not be that great, but we have a lot of people living along the coast and we're relatively densely populated. So you don't have to expose a whole lot of a community's area in order to expose a lot of homes," said Kristina Dahl, a report author.

Nearly a thousand San Diego County properties are at risk if worst-case scenarios are realized by 2045. Coastal property could end up underwater or be susceptible to more frequent flooding.

"If you're in any way invested in the coastal real estate market it is important to know how exposed your investments are to the risk of sea level rise. As coastal residents we need to be advocating for the tools and resources and funding that communities need to assess their risks and evaluate their response options," Dahl said.

Property values will fall as sea level rises and that could hurt local governments who rely on property taxes to provide public services, Dahl said.

Sea Level Rise Could Sink California Property Values
A new report says California property values along the coast could drop as the level of the ocean rises. The study found more than $15 billion worth of private property is at risk in California over the next 25 years.