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State Urges Officials Not To Postpone Planning For Sea-Level Rise

The ocean washes over rocks that are designed to keep the sea at bay in Imper...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: The ocean washes over rocks that are designed to keep the sea at bay in Imperial Beach, Jan. 18, 2019.

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A California report urges local and state governments not to get distracted by COVID-19 from planning ahead for rising seas.

Aired: August 18, 2020 | Transcript

A report from the California Legislative Analyst's Office has sobering reminders of what sea-level rise will do to our coastline, our economy and to our public and private property. The report urges local and state governments not to get distracted by COVID-19 from planning ahead for the rising seas.

Rachel Ehlers, author of the report, "What Threat Does Sea Level Rise Pose to California," said estimates are that the ocean off the California coast will rise about a foot by 2030, 3½ feet by 2050, and up to 7 feet by the end of the century.

She said San Diego has the benefit of specific and sobering studies into how sea-level rise will damage the economy. They suggest 3 feet of sea-level rise, combined with a large storm, could affect 15,000 jobs and $2 billion in regional gross domestic product.

Rising seas will not just affect beaches and tourism, but also San Diego’s port and the military, which each have a major presence in San Diego Bay. Ehlers pointed to the eroding bluffs in Del Mar which threaten the train tracks that carry imported cars up the coast, along with passenger trains filled with thousands of commuters

The agencies primarily responsible for planning to adapt to sea-level rise are local governments, but Ehlers said the state should be playing a supporting role. She said a second bond measure may end up on the ballot to help pay for the coming changes.

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