Mother Nature Bats Last: Chair Kinsey has Quote of the Hearing

From ActCoastal

By Stefanie Sekich-Quinn | Published 2013/12/19

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Commentary is provided by ActCoastal partners.

This blog represents the views of the authors, and does not necessarily reflect the positions of ActCoastal and its partner organizations.

“We have to make critical decisions. Our commitment to infrastructure can only be good for so long…at some point we need the ability to say “at your own risk”.”
     -Commissioner Kinsey.

Incoming Coastal Commission Chair Kinsey earned the best quote of the December meeting for clearly stating the inevitable reality facing California as sea level rise increases erosion along our coastline. Kinsey’s quote was just one of the highlights from last week’s Coastal Commission (CCC) hearing where the commission discussed its newly released draft Sea Level Rise (SLR) Policy Guidance document.

Conservation representatives attending the hearing were encouraged by the level of discussion amongst commissioners. Below are some (paraphrased) highlights.

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  • Commissioner Shallenberger stressed the “urgent task at hand,” saying we cannot underestimate the work we have to do. She emphasized a regional approach to sea level policy implementation, saying that SLR is not confined to city limits. She also expressed concerns that sand “replenishment” projects are not a long-term fix.
  • Commissioner Mitchell stressed the need to coordinate with local governments and other agencies. She pointed out that the SLR document, and its implementation, is an iterative process that will require substantive input from planners. Mitchell also suggested holding symposiums at the local level to ensure understanding of the SLR guidance document.
  • Commissioner Garcia raised important questions about the best way to work with governments and local businesses to analyze long-term economic impacts. He emphasized that the CCC should engage others who typically might not be interested in SLR, and suggested the CCC hold webinars for local planners.
  • Commissioner McClure focused on assessing vulnerable ecosystems and populations and on making sure that the CCC takes a regional approach and work closely with planners. Her suggestions to include more ‘green infrastructure’ and ‘living shorelines’ were well received.
  • Commissioner Zimmer explained the importance of acting early to deal with the enormity of climate change. She urged the CCC and local planners not to be intimidated by the “first steps” of planning or to get bogged down by “climate change nay-sayers.” Zimmer stressed the need to provide local governments with tools and resources to ensure they can adequately implement a new policy framework.
  • Commissioner Brennan highlighted the importance of natural systems and better understanding of offshore sand movement (i.e. littoral cells) and inland sand sources. He also stressed that sand “replenishment” has its place, but is not the “end-all be-all.”

ActCoastal representatives testified in support of:

  • The CCC working with local planners and communities to effectively implement the newest guidance.
  • The CCC holding symposiums for local planners and communities that receive grants to update their Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) to account for SLR.
  • Conducting “agency workshops” that clarify obligations and options for agencies responsible for implementing statewide SLR policy.

ActCoastal also urged the CCC to encourage Governor Brown and the legislature to continue funding the Coastal Commission’s program to plan for SLR in Local Coastal Programs (LCPs). Finally, Act Coastal representatives stressed that coastal tourism and recreation should be a critical component of SLR planning considering that California’s ocean economy is the biggest source of revenue for the state.

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The Coastal Commission is uniquely poised to help establish forward-thinking policies that adequately address the inevitable future impacts of SLR. This important document, along with other documents produced by the Governor’s office and the Natural Resources Agency, will provide the policy framework that local communities need to address this critical threat. Public comment on this document ends Jan 15. Read a previous blog by ActCoastal for more information about the document.