Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Plan
Through the development of the Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Plan (Plan), Contra Costa County is exploring how to increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of the entire Contra Costa shoreline in the face of rising sea levels.
The Plan will use existing assessments, reports, and studies as a foundation to inform localized sea level rise adaptation strategies and implementation measures while coordinating efforts to address sea level rise impacts across the entire 90-mile Contra Costa shoreline and aligning with regional sea level rise adaptation efforts. These localized adaptation strategies and implementation measures will be rooted in science and aligned with community values. Integral to the Plan development process will be a participatory engagement process to ensure that all relevant and interested stakeholders have the resources and support to fully engage in this work and that the Plan centers community members’ vision and priorities for a resilient shoreline.
Current Work to Address Sea Level Rise
- Project Milestones
- Participation in Sea Level Rise Projects
- Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Ad Hoc Committee on Sea Level Rise
- Sign up for updates
- Attend a meeting of the Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Ad Hoc Committee on Sea Level Rise
Current Status (January 2024)
The County is currently seeking grant funding for the Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Plan (Plan).
The County participates in sea level rise adaptation and resilience efforts happening across the Bay Area to ensure our efforts are consistent and complementary. Ongoing coordination efforts the County is engaged in include:
- The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (BCDC) Regional Shoreline Adaptation Plan (RSAP). Staff are involved with BCDC’s staff-level advisory working group to inform the development of the RSAP;
- The stakeholder working group effort informing the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Adapts initiative;
- The San Francisco Estuary Institute’s shallow groundwater risk assessment, similar to the report completed in Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties; and
- The North Richmond Living Levee project.
Two members of the County Board of Supervisors sit on the Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Ad Hoc Committee focused on sea level rise resilience and adaptation planning and implementation. The Committee will develop recommendations to the Board on work the County can do to plan for sea level rise and improve shoreline resiliency. The Ad Hoc Committee also provides a dedicated space for Contra Costa County to consider how local sea level rise resilience and adaptation efforts can complement regional efforts happening across the San Francisco Bay Area.
Visit the Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Ad Hoc Committee webpage for meeting information and agendas.
Building Upon Previous Work
Since 2015, the County has been actively involved in regional sea level rise planning and vulnerability assessments led by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), Delta Stewardship Council (DSC), San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), and others.
The main reports informing the County's work on sea level rise include the:
- Ocean Protection Council State of California Sea Level Rise Guidance: 2024 Science and Policy Update (2024)
This draft guidance will update and replace the previous 2018 State of California Sea Level Rise Guidance. The draft Guidance is now available for public review and comment until March 4, 2024. This guidance is updated approximately every five years and includes updated projected sea level rise through 2150 and guidance to help state, tribal, local, and regional jurisdictions integrate the best available science into coastal adaptation projects, resilience planning, and investments. To learn more, visit the Ocean Protection Council's 2024 Draft Sea Level Rise Guidance Update webpage.
- Sea Level Rise Technical Report (2022)
This report provides sea level rise scenarios through the year 2150 and a set of extreme water level probabilities for various heights along the U.S. coastline. The report will be a key technical input for the Fifth National Climate Assessment. The report is intended to help inform Federal agencies, state and local governments, and stakeholders in coastal communities about current and future sea level rise to help contextualize its effects for decision-making purposes. Among the key findings of this technical report was that the range of projected global, national, and regional sea level rise in the year 2050 was narrower than previous estimates. In other words, there is more certainty as to the amount of sea level rise that shoreline communities can expect to see by 2050.
- Delta Stewardship Council Delta Adapts (2021)
The Delta Adapts initiative is comprised of two parts: the 2021 Vulnerability Assessment and the Adaptation Strategy. Delta Adapts covers the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region. The forthcoming Adaptation Strategy will detail strategies and tools that State, regional, and local governments can use to help communities and ecosystems thrive in the face of climate change while protecting critical infrastructure and economic activities from damage and loss.
- BCDC East Contra Costa County Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Project (2020)
The report is a continuation of the 2017 BCDC Contra Costa County ART Project with a focus on the eastern portion of the county, starting from Pittsburg extending east to Webb Tract and south to Clifton Court Forebay. The report assesses the sea level rise flooding vulnerabilities of fourteen sectors and thirty-four asset categories ranging from agriculture and oil and gas production fields to Delta Islands and stormwater infrastructure and identifies adaptation responses for the vulnerabilities of all thirty-four asset categories and seven key planning issues.
- Hazardous Materials Commodity Flow Study with Special Focus on Sea Level Rise and Flood Risk: Contra Costa County, California (2019)
The Flow Study focused on determining the potential effects/consequences of a chemical spill on critical and vulnerable populations and facilities in the shoreline communities of Contra Costa County. The primary focus of the Flow Study was to look at these potential effects/consequences with respect to hazardous chemical transport by rail through the County, particularly within areas of the county where rail lines may be susceptible to rising tides and flooding risks from climate change.
- Climate Resilience in Contra Costa County: Implementing the ART Study (2019)
A graduate student team from the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy developed a set of three recommended governance structures for the County to consider when coordinating a response to rising tides. The report builds upon the findings from the BCDC’s 2017 Contra Costa County Adapting to Rising Tides Project. The report’s key recommendation is for the County to begin sea level rise work by forming a working group of government entities, property owners, and other stakeholders.
- San Francisco Estuary Institute San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas (2019)
The Adaptation Atlas utilizes Operational Landscape Units (OLU), which are connected geographic areas that share certain traits (hydrological setting, connected habitats, sediment), as a lens through which to identify a set of adaptation measures that would suit a specific segment of the Bay shoreline. Of the thirty OLUs that make up the San Francisco Bay Area, seven comprise Contra Costa County’s shoreline (part of the East Bay Crescent eastward through the Bay Point OLU).
- Resilient by Design Bay Area ouR-HOME Report (2018)
The report documents a portfolio of projects linked to sea level rise adaptation and health and wealth-building benefits for the impacted community of North Richmond. These strategies include small-lot housing, a community land trust, social impact bonds, green infrastructure (a horizontal levee, wetland restoration, and tree planting), an overpass to provide public access to the Bay, and a green benefits district.
- State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance (2018)
The guidance summarizes the best available science on sea level rise projections and rates for California, a step-by-step approach for state agencies and local governments to utilize when making decisions about potential sea level rise-related hazards, and preferred coastal adaptation approaches.
- BCDC Contra Costa County Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Project (2017)
The project projects the impacts of up to 6 feet of sea level rise along the western and central Contra Costa County shoreline from Richmond to Bay Point. It assesses the sea level rise flooding vulnerabilities and adaptation responses of eleven sectors and thirty asset categories ranging from landfills and railroads to housing and tidal wetlands and identifies adaptation responses for the thirty asset categories and six key planning issues.
- May 16, 2023: Established the Contra Costa Resilient Shoreline Ad Hoc Committee.
- March 29, 2022: Accepted the Sustainability Commission’s recommendation to form a sea level rise working group informed by the Goldman School report.
- February 8, 2022: Adopted Resolution 2022/52 in support of the BCDC-led Bay Adapt Joint Platform. The Bay Adapt Joint Platform calls on the Bay Area to “collaborate on a ‘One Bay’ vision to adapt to rising sea levels” and “align local and regional plans into a unified adaptation approach.”
- November 16, 2021: Approved Measure X which includes funding for sea level rise planning efforts to improve resiliency across jurisdictional lines on a multi-partner basis.
- March 9, 2021: Amended the 2021-2022 State and Federal Legislative Platforms to include language in support of “Planning work for adapting to rising sea levels.”
- September 10, 2019: Accepted a report developed by a graduate student team from the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. The report identifies options the County could pursue to fund and implement the Contra Costa County ART Project findings.
- May 23, 2017: Accepted the BCDC Contra Costa County Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Project, which assesses the vulnerability of assets in west and central county to sea level rise, and invited BCDC to extend its analysis of sea level rise vulnerability to east county.
What is Sea Level Rise?
The sea level rise we are experiencing now and will experience in the future is caused by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere acts like a blanket, trapping in heat that would otherwise escape. When we burn fossil fuels, we are adding more carbon dioxide, "thickening the blanket", and heating the earth, air, and ocean. With more heat, sea levels rise because land-based glaciers and ice sheets melt into the ocean and because water takes up more space when it warms. The amount of sea level rise we will ultimately experience depends on how quickly we stop burning fossil fuels.
In the face of rising seas, it is imperative that Contra Costa County build capacity to proactively plan for increased shoreline resilience and adaptive capacity. By starting now, we are able to create comprehensive, meaningful, and actionable plans for sea level rise adaptation.
In addition to reducing flood risk, sea level rise adaptation projects can offer a spectrum of additional benefits. These benefits include green spaces along the shore for people to gather and enjoy, green careers for residents monitoring and maintaining nature-based adaptation projects, and green habitats to support wildlife and vegetation that can purify water, reduce erosion, and store carbon naturally.