New Coastal Times

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Our bar team prides themselves on small-batch, hand-crafted cocktails and spirits. You can trust that we meticulously picked each of them not only for their incredible flavor profile…but also were drawn to their story. We love a good story! Save us both a broken heart and make reservations below. Call for larger parties. Our Story. Find Us. Make A Res. What a summer! Open 5 Nights a Week! This View Never Gets Old fenwickisland. But first Most of the beaches had narrowed significantly by the following year. Broad Beach, once so wide that dunes had room to grow along the sand, now hardly lives up to its name.

Building mansions on the sand also took up about feet of the beach and dunes, leaving only a narrow buffer against the rising sea. Sand was disappearing so rapidly that a rock wall was built to protect the septic system and the homes. These days, there is little beach left during high tide. The public stairs drop straight down into water.

The project has been delayed by disputes over the source of sand and legal challenges over the costs, which keep going up. At the very southernmost edge of California, a world away from Malibu, the border town of Imperial Beach seems to be living on borrowed time. One-fifth of the residents here are lower-income. High tide soaks the road every winter. Sewage spilling from Tijuana regularly shuts down the beach. Those living below sea level recall floodwaters so high in the s that they had to use canoes.

Today, they board up windows and brace for storms.

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Surrounded by the ocean, a bay and a river, Imperial Beach is looking at losing one-third of the town if nothing is done, one official said. Hazard maps show blocks and blocks of homes that could be flooded by A beach nourishment effort seven years ago went awry because the sand grains were too coarse.

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Sand berms and rock walls will last only so long. The reptilian frenzy over managed retreat has overtaken Imperial Beach, as it has in other cities. Fear overwhelms reason. Conspiracy theories and misinformation abound. Some think the mayor, an environmentalist known for his history of preserving open space, just wants to turn the town into one giant lagoon.

But time is ticking. Earlier this year, a group of scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography gathered on an apartment balcony and watched in awe as the ocean devoured more than 3 feet of sand in one morning. His team has been studying ways to forecast floods and were watching that morning because they knew the waves would be particularly powerful.

Their data had projected that this would come just ahead of a king tide — when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned closest together, creating a higher-than-high tide. They had alerted Imperial Beach, which filled more than sandbags just in time and warned residents to board up their homes. These king tides are becoming a new normal, said Merrifield, whose team hopes to fill in data gaps that could help more communities better understand their risks. That rising ocean, for decades, had spared California. Favorable winds pulled warmer water offshore and the West Coast had cool, denser water that took up less volume — suppressing the rate of sea rise below the global average.

But scientists in the last decade have seen a dramatic shift: The waters off the West Coast are now much warmer; the sea is now rising faster here than elsewhere in the world. The morning after the worst of the surge, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina parked his Prius and hopped around puddles still pooling down Seacoast Drive.

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Waves, still breaking over the rock barriers, spewed sand across the road. A maintenance worker sprinted toward the nearest driveway, startled by yet another rush of water. An avid surfer, Dedina has watched this ocean obsessively his whole life. But taming the water has been all-consuming. It just got its first real grocery store.


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The city and its consultants have come up with some big ideas — but lack the political support and capital to get started. Buy out these first few row of homes along the coast, for example, and rent them at market value. Three decades of rent should be enough to recoup the costs. The city or a land trust at that time could then decide what to do with the properties.

For now, Dedina is focused on relocating some public infrastructure and building more homes and businesses further inland. The state has taken some action but is largely still confronting this 21st century problem with decades-old laws and thinking. Lawmakers are aware of the problem, and they have told cities they must start addressing climate adaptation in their planning. But Sacramento has otherwise shied away from issuing mandatory directions. Phil King, an economist and professor at San Francisco State University who has consulted for a number of beach cities, said that what Californians need is a clear statewide plan.

Managed retreat sounds scary, but it just means retreating with everyone knowing what the rules are, he said. Bankruptcy law could be a model, he said, because it makes a messy process as orderly as possible. Managed retreat is similar: Dealing with a loss and making sure that everyone absorbs the loss in the most reasonable, equitable way. It needs to become a reality where we actually talk about: How are we going to actually manage the retreat? And if a seawall has to exist in the short term to protect private property or infrastructure, perhaps a greater authority like the State Lands Commission could charge rent for it.

These funds could then be used toward other efforts to manage and preserve the coastline.

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Some lawmakers see this as a way to buy more time as the backlash over relocation continues. The fear of political suicide should not paralyze those in power from studying the how, where and why of managed retreat, said Katharine Mach, a senior research scientist at Stanford who has helped lead national and global climate change assessments. In the same way state leaders paved the way on other environmental issues, what California does now on managed retreat could help set some standards for others across the country, she said. Jack Ainsworth, executive director of the Coastal Commission, points to the work his agency has done within its legal power.

Commissioners are tough on any new construction that gets in the way of the rising sea. They passed a resolution last year pledging that seawalls would be permitted only if absolutely necessary. Beyond that, he said, the commission is stuck. Only lawmakers can establish new disclosure laws. Only state, city and federal leaders can determine how much money they are willing to spend to come up with a clear plan for the future, and ultimately, how to pay for the retreat where necessary.

When staff is short or pressure comes from those wealthy enough to fight back in perpetuity, the Coastal Commission has in the past pushed tough issues down the road. But Ainsworth said California cannot afford that with sea level rise. A few winding turns past Bodega Bay, about an hour north of San Francisco, relentless waves pound against a stretch of coastline whose fate has been paralyzed by political inaction.

Once referred to as Malibu North, Gleason Beach now feels more like the edge of the world — a window into the future if California does not change course. Nine homes perch on crumbling cliffs that drop 30 some feet onto a beach that appears only during low tide. A pile of seawalls, smashed into pieces, clutters the shore. Rebar and bits of concrete poke out here and there — a graveyard of more than 10 other homes that once also faced the sea.

Highway 1, hanging inches from the edge, had to shut one traffic lane this year. But efforts to move 0. Residents, environmentalists, and state, county and transportation officials are still arguing over the details.

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Mary Cook remembers moving into a seaside cottage from the s. Photos back then showed the house with a foot yard. Stairs led down to the beach. Her husband, an architect, made a few additions to their home as the bluff continued to erode about a foot a year. They put up a seawall. But then in the winter of , one big storm took out the entire cliffside. Officials came in and declared an emergency. Life for her neighbors eventually carried on.

The storm ebbed from memory. The sun re-emerged. The Cooks, however, were tired of buying time. The Ocean Game. Pacifica A town on the edge On the bluffs and shores of Pacifica, a postcard stretch of coastal hamlets just south of San Francisco, residents fear that planning for sea level rise means condemning their own community to extinction.

In one part of town, the ocean chewed away more than 90 feet of bluff in less than a decade. Seawalls Protection at what cost? The hidden cost of seawalls Seawalls form a line of defense against the rising ocean. High surf pummels homes along Faria Beach in Ventura County. Seawalls disrupt the natural replenishment of sand, squeezing away beaches until they narrow or vanish altogether.

If insurers stop covering risky properties, the state becomes the last resort. Ferry Building. Transamerica Pyramid. Financial District. Market Street. Mission Creek.

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