Report: West Coast Must Come to Terms With Managed Retreat

In a Smart Cities Dive brief, Ysabelle Kempe out­lines the find­ings of a from the Ocean & Cli­mate that warns West Coast to pre­pare for man­aged retreat, a “long-term trans­for­ma­tive option” for mit­i­gat­ing sea lev­el that many cities have been reluc­tant to con­sid­er.

The prac­tice of relo­cat­ing peo­ple and remains con­tentious and has led to con­flict, notably over poten­tial tax rev­enue for cities, the report says. It adds that com­mu­ni­ties are still pri­mar­i­ly pre­vent­ing coastal ero­sion with “armor­ing” such as sea­walls, but there is a grow­ing inter­est in nature-based solu­tions such as restora­tion of oys­ter reefs and wet­lands.

The report “calls for a refram­ing of the debate around man­aged retreat” that would “rethink the inter­sec­tion of built and nat­ur­al spaces” in a way that is “antic­i­pat­ed, con­sent­ed to and inte­grat­ed in phased and flex­i­ble man­ners” for the com­mu­ni­ty. The report names as exam­ples the relo­ca­tion of sev­er­al seg­ments of Cal­i­for­nia state high­way that secured the and enabled shore­line restora­tion.

The report urges com­mu­ni­ties to begin plan­ning as soon as pos­si­ble to avoid high­er costs in the , but acknowl­edges that much of Cal­i­for­nia coastal real estate “sim­ply remains too finan­cial­ized, and prop­er­ties retain too much eco­nom­ic val­ue” to eas­i­ly relo­cate.

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