Community Development Agency discusses combating rising sea levels

%28Courtesy+of+The+Tam+News%29

(Courtesy of The Tam News)

By Savy Behr

Marin’s Community Development Agency (CDA) held a virtual meeting in October of last year to discuss solutions for Stinson’s rising sea levels and consequently eroding beaches. According to a Marin County News Release on Oct. 11, there are 773 homes, 630 residents, and six businesses at risk of flooding near the west side of Shoreline Highway. The CDA presented data based on possible ideas to protect coastal homes from flooding and damage.

 One proposed solution is a dune system: a nature-based alternative to a traditional seawall. It would be the first “green” alternative to more common environmental infrastructure approaches in Marin, according to the news release. Currently, the only protective measure is a few scattered, man-made dunes. Dunes, with high sand mounds and deep-rooted grasses, absorb pressure from storms and king tides. 

“We are looking for a climate change adaptation that will allow people to stay in their places longer, protect natural resources, and sustain public beach access,” community planner for the CDA Leslie Lacko said. “It makes a lot more sense to work with nature than against it.” A dune system is cheaper to build and maintain than a sea wall, one of the alternative proposed solutions. “Hard shoreline structures [such as a seawall] have negative environmental impacts. They cause greater erosion for adjacent sites,” said Lacko. 

Marin County was awarded a $396,000 grant, one of 15 Coastal Resilience Grants awarded by the California Ocean Protection Council. This grant will fund the solutions decided upon by the CDA and the affected community. “These investments will advance California’s ambitious goals to prepare for sea-level rise impacts and build coastal resilience,” California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said. 

“We are looking for a climate change adaptation that will allow people to stay in their places longer, protect natural resources, and sustain public beach access,” Lacko said. “On the part of the beach owned by the National Park Service, near the south parking lot, they put a dune embankment in years ago. It still provides some protection from wave run-up although it’s been some time.” The dune system provides multiple benefits, like habitat for plants and animals, and it is more likely to be approved by both federal and state resource agencies, according to Lacko.

Communities will be better prepared to meet the challenges by assessing what is vulnerable to rising tides, creating opportunities for residents to learn from the experts, and by involving everyone in collaborative planning for the expected environmental changes,” the Marin County news release said. The CDA encourages community members to participate as developments are made in the effort to protect Stinson’s homes, businesses, and beaches, Resources to get involved are listed on the County of Marin official website.