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Oceanside Studies Vulnerability To Sea Level Rise

Waves on the breakwater at the mouth of Oceanside harbor, May 22, 2018.
Alison St John
Waves on the breakwater at the mouth of Oceanside harbor, May 22, 2018.

Oceanside holds its first public meeting this week to talk about which parts of the city are most vulnerable to sea-level rise.

The Californian Coastal Commission requires cities to update their Local Coastal Programs to adapt to rising seas, and this is the first step for Oceanside.

Principal planner Russ Cunningham said Oceanside is the only San Diego north coastal city with a harbor and a pier, plus the Strand that runs along the edge of the beach. These are just some of the public facilities that will be affected by sea-level rise, according to a new study of the city’s vulnerabilities.

The report reveals that new public restrooms recently built on the beach are already flooding at times, but Cunningham said it was designed to withstand seawater washing through them. He said other new public facilities, such as a newly approved police substation near the pier, may need design modifications to withstand king tides and storms.

Private property will also be affected. Cunningham said some of the new homes being built along the Strand are already preparing for king tides and storms.

“In some cases, the habitable space has been elevated above semi-subterranean garages,” he said. “And those garages can get wet, and water can be pumped out of those garages with different technologies.”

Cunningham said the report is based on National Research Council 2012 projections. He said they predict up to one-and-a=-half feet of sea level rise within 12 years and up to more than five feet by the turn of the century. He acknowledged that recent news could mean those predictions need to be revised upwards.

But he said the city is likely to adopt a “trigger” approach to sea-level rise adaptations.

In other words, certain events, such as flooding or damage that occur over time would be defined as triggers to take further action.

“We want to be proactive,” Cunningham said. “But at the same time we don’t want to assume too much about the level of rise we’ll experience and what the impact of that rise will be.”

Cunningham said downtown Oceanside is protected by 30-foot bluffs, but many short-term rental properties below those bluffs could be impacted.

Thursday’s meeting will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Oceanside City Hall.

Early next year, Oceanside will plan meetings to consider proposed strategies to deal with rising seas.

Oceanside Studies Vulnerability To Sea Level Rise
Oceanside holds its first public meeting this week to talk about which parts of the city are most vulnerable to sea level rise.