Updating the State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document | California Ocean Protection Council
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Updating the State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document

A need to update statewide policy

The State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance Document, initially released in 2010 and updated in 2013, provides guidance to state agencies for incorporating sea-level rise projections into planning, permitting, investment and other decisions.

Now, the California Ocean Protection Council and the California Natural Resources Agency, in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, California Energy Commission, and the California Ocean Science Trust, are updating this statewide guidance to reflect recent advances in ice loss science and projections of sea-level rise. The updated guidance will focus on the needs of state agencies and local governments. It will help cities and counties as they comply with a new law that requires them to incorporate climate change into their planning efforts.  The updated guidance document will also assist state agencies prepare for, and adapt to climate change, as directed by Governor Brown’s recent Executive Order.

Updating the science

The California Ocean Protection Council is partnering with the California Ocean Science Trust, which has been charged with leading the scientific component of the update and convening an OPC Science Advisory Team Working Group. The Working Group will compile and review the latest climate research, including considering the implications of recent scientific advances on ice loss dynamics for updating sea-level rise projections. The Working Group includes subject-matter experts in coastal processes, risk assessment, climatic change, ice loss and ice sheet behavior, and statistical modeling. The Working Group will integrate the latest findings from the peer-reviewed scientific literature into a science report that will inform the guidance document update. This science report will be presented to the California Ocean Protection Council at its April 2017 meeting.

The Working Group members are:

  • Gary Griggs, University of California Santa Cruz, OPC-SAT (Working Group Chair)
  • Dan Cayan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, OPC-SAT
  • Bob Kopp, Rutgers University
  • Claudia Tebaldi, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Helen Fricker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Joe Arvai, University of Michigan
  • Rob DeConto, University of Massachusetts.

Developing science-based, user-informed policy guidance

Input from users of the guidance document will be solicited at multiple points throughout the update process.  In February, March and April 2017, an Engagement Team led by Susanne Moser Research & Consulting and Climate Access, a not-for-profit organization, will conduct interviews and five listening sessions to better understand the needs of those who will use the guidance document. This input will help ensure that the updated guidance is understandable and useful for planning and decision-making.

In summer 2017, the California Ocean Protection Council and California Ocean Science Trust, with support from the Engagement Team, will convene a series of public workshops with state, regional, and local stakeholders to share the science findings and to solicit feedback on how stakeholders will utilize the guidance document. Public input on the guidance framework will help shape the updated draft policy guidance document. The Policy Advisory Committee, comprised of the California Ocean Protection Council and California Natural Resources Agency, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Energy Commission, will prepare the updated draft guidance. This draft will then be circulated for formal public comment in the fall of 2017, with final adoption by the California Ocean Protection Council scheduled for January 2018.


Photo by: C. Parrinello

Timeline & Opportunities for Engagement:

February – April 2017: State agency, local government and stakeholder engagement: interviews and five listening sessions.

April 26th 2017: OPC Meeting, 1 – 4 pm (Sacramento and webcast): Science report presented to the OPC

**May – June 2017: Series of public workshops to solicit feedback on a draft framework for the State Sea-level Rise Guidance Document

October – November 2017: 30-day public comment period on a draft update to the State Sea-level Rise Guidance Document

January 2018: OPC Meeting (Sacramento and webcast): Scheduled adoption by the OPC of the State Sea-level Rise Guidance Document


**We will be soliciting feedback on a draft policy guidance framework during four public workshops across the state:

South Coast  Tuesday, May 16  1 pm – 4 pm 
Environmental Learning Center at Hyperion
12000 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
To attend this workshop, please register here

Bay Area  Monday, May 22  1:30 pm – 5 pm*
455 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102
*a Safeguarding California Workshop will take place here earlier in the day at 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
To attend this workshop, please register here

North Coast  Thursday, June 8  9 am – 12 pm
Sequoia Conference Center
901 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka, CA 95501
To attend this workshop, please register here

San Diego  TBD


Update to the State of California’s Sea-Level Rise Guidance Listening Sessions:
Make sure your needs are being met in the updated policy by participating in a listening session

Each listening session is oriented toward a particular set of planners and managers. Please choose the one that best represents your area of work or expertise. We will focus on support for your planning and decision-making processes, governmental coordination, dealing with uncertainty and trade-offs, and engagement needs.

Please follow the appropriate link to register for only one listening session. While each session is oriented toward a different set of professionals, the types of questions explored in each listening session are the same. Space is limited and registrations will be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis, so please sign up as soon as possible.

1) Listening Session: Water Supply & Quality Management, Stormwater & Sewage Management, Water-related Infrastructure InvestmentsTuesday April 11th, 12-1:30 PT

2) Listening Session: Planning, General/Comprehensive Plans, Local Coastal ProgramsTuesday April 11, 3:00 – 4:30 PT

3) Listening Session: Ecosystem Management, Conservation, Restoration, Monday April 17, 12:00 – 1:30 PT

4) Listening Session: Flood Plain Management, Hazard Mitigation, Emergency Management, Tuesday April 18, 12:00 – 1:30 PT

5) Listening Session: Transportation Planning, Management and Infrastructure, Tuesday April 18, 3:00 – 4:30 PT


Stay Updated

For additional details, continual updates on the guidance document process, and opportunities for stakeholder input (e.g., dates of listening sessions and workshops or the public comment period):

Contact Us

Jenn Eckerle, Deputy Director, Ocean Protection Council; jenn.eckerle@resources.ca.gov
Liz Whiteman, Director of Science & Strategy, Ocean Science Trust; liz.whiteman@oceansciencetrust.org

Key Resources

Project Summary (one-pager)
Frequently Asked Questions
Key Findings of Science Report
Rising Seas in California: An Update on Sea-Level Rise Science