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Protections Being Sought For Coastal Communities
water day

On World Water Day 2021, California State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), and climate change experts called on Californians to encourage their communities to support SB 1, legislation authored by Pro Tem Atkins to provide tools for California to combat sea level rise.

“Countless lives and businesses, from Crescent City in the North to Imperial Beach in the South, could be upended if California does not take action,” Pro Tem Atkins said. “From clean drinking water to water supply for crops to the magnificent Pacific Ocean that buoys life in our coastal communities, water is a cornerstone of life for our entire state’s environment and our economy, and it’s being jeopardized as climate changes cause our oceans to warm and our sea levels to rise.”

SB 1 directs the California Coastal Commission to take sea level rise into account in its planning, policies, and activities, and would establish the California Sea Level Rise State and Regional Support Collaborative, a cross-government group tasked with educating the public and advising local, regional, and state government on feasible sea level rise mitigation efforts. The bill also would expand funding to assist more disadvantaged communities along the coast that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise and are actively working to address environmental justice issues.

Funding for SB 1 is included in SB 45, a $5.5 billion bond measure that includes $970 million for coastal protection and restoration. That funding is intended to address sea level rise, which includes better local and regional planning and project investment. The bill specifies that the funding would allocate $100 million per year for this effort.

“We rely on our beaches as an indispensable respite for our communities as well as an economic driver for tourism,” said principal co-author Assemblymember Petrie-Norris. “SB 1 represents the first comprehensive effort of its kind to ensure sea level rise is accounted for as we address the threats of climate change today and protect the coast for posterity tomorrow.”

Pro Tem Atkins added, “We’re already seeing the very real impacts of sea level rise in my district and throughout coastal communities up and down the state. We see tell-tale signs in the King Tides – these periodic massive high tides give us a glimpse into how our neighborhoods will be impacted as seas continue to rise, flooding our streets and homes, threatening our businesses and military installations. It’s critical that all communities, especially communities of color and disadvantaged communities, are given the tools, funding, and support they need to address this climate change issue.”