There have been home sales of $22 million and $23 million on the Del Mar oceanfront in the last 60 days. Hat tip to Richard and ‘just some guy’ for sending this in (the next Coastal Commission meeting is tomorrow):

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.

The city has taken the position that one of the Coastal Commission’s basic strategies, called “managed retreat” or sometimes “planned retreat,” will not work in Del Mar.

“We have a plan, and we stand by our plan,” Del Mar Councilman Dwight Worden said Friday.

The City Council is scheduled to review its sea-level rise adaptation plan tonight (Oct 7) in preparation for a Coastal Commission hearing on Oct. 16. The commission’s staff has recommended its board reject Del Mar’s plan unless the city agrees to a list of 25 modifications that Worden said could be a “back door” to managed retreat.

Del Mar is among the first cities and counties in the state to formalize its plans for adapting to sea-level rise. As a result, Del Mar’s decisions and its negotiations with the Coastal Commission will set a precedent.

Managed retreat requires communities to look for ways to remove structures from low-lying land or seaside bluffs that are threatened by the rising sea. In some cases, public agencies would step in and buy private property, or facilitate a move in some other way so that nature can take its course.

Del Mar, after nearly five years of community meetings and work by residents, staffers and consultants, has agreed to reject the idea of managed retreat. 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.

“The extremely high land value in Del Mar means that public acquisition of any property the city does not control will be difficult and cost-prohibitive,” states a resolution approved last year by the City Council.

“Alternative locations are not available for displaced residents or city infrastructure,” it states. Instead, the city will pursue a combination of beach nourishment, sand retention and flood management projects.

Planning for sea-level rise is a relatively new requirement of the Coastal Commission. The state agency was founded in 1972 when there was little knowledge of climate change and rising sea levels.

Eventually, all coastal cities and counties will be required to include the adaptation plan in updates to their Local Coastal Programs, which are approved by the Coastal Commission so that local agencies can approve development without state oversight.

So far, the Coastal Commission has only certified the adaptation plans for the cities of San Francisco, San Clemente, Newport Beach and Santa Barbara and for the county of San Diego. Santa Barbara County and the city of Santa Monica have proposed plans to be considered by the commission in December.

Carlsbad completed a “sea-level rise vulnerability assessment” two years ago that included its look at managed retreat. The city will hold a public review of its proposed local coastal program update, including sea-level adaptation strategies, on Oct. 29.

Managed retreat has been less of an issue in most other communities, where fewer residents live in low-lying coastal properties.

“We are at the tip of the spear because we chose to be at the tip of the spear,” said Worden, who was Del Mar’s city attorney for years before he was elected to the council. “There are some advantages to being first. We get to write the rules, or at least help write the rules.”

The Coastal Commission’s staff report says little about managed retreat and states that the city’s plan does a good job of addressing “near-term” strategies. But the report says Del Mar “fails to include the level of detail necessary to address the future impacts” of sea-level rise.

Link to UT article

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