Coastal City Rejects 'Managed Retreat' Strategy

Del Mar, in Southern California, says it does not want to adopt the approach as part of its sea-level rise adaptation plan.

1 minute read

October 13, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


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"Del Mar is gearing up for a tussle with the California Coastal Commission over the best way to adapt to rising sea levels, an issue with statewide implications," writes Phil Diehl. The city is arguing that "planned retreat," where structures vulnerable to sea-level rise are relocated, is not an option for the city.

"Instead, the city intends to focus on restoring sand to eroding beaches, reinforcing its existing seawalls and dredging the channel of the nearby San Dieguito River," says Diehl. But planned retreat is one of the commission’s basic strategies, and the staff report on Del Mar’s plan suggests that the city is not adequately outlining a long-term plan for addressing the threat of sea-level rise.

"The commission’s staff has recommended its board reject Del Mar’s plan unless the city agrees to a list of 25 modifications that [Del Mar Councilman Dwight] Worden said could be a 'back door' to managed retreat," notes Diehl.

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