San Rafael, CA – Climate change and sea level rise are a long-term concern for coastal communities worldwide, and Stinson Beach is no different. The unincorporated seaside area in Marin County will be the focus of an online public meeting May 18 to discuss long-term flood risk as the Pacific Ocean continues to infringe on the community and create complications for local residents, beach visitors, and natural areas.
For years, the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) has spearheaded public education efforts about sea level rise and the need for adaptation plans. A new report, published April 24 by CDA and lead consultant Environmental Science Associates, includes major findings about how natural resources, homes, and infrastructure in Stinson Beach will be affected by predicted rises in ocean levels in the coming decades.
Stinson Beach (foreground) is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and property damage caused by winter storms, as demonstrated in January 2023.
CDA planners hosted a meeting with Stinson Beach property owners and residents on April 29 and are convening several focus groups over the next few weeks before the May 18 public meeting. That online session will include an overview of the projected impacts, a video from consultants Virtual Planet showing projected sea level rise in Stinson Beach (view now in English and Spanish), and a Q&A with those behind the new report.
Stinson Beach felt the brunt of the January atmospheric rivers and storm surges; some properties sustained thousands of dollars in damage and the public beach was closed for three weeks to vehicles. Hundreds of homes and other infrastructure are at risk of a 100-year coastal storm or a 100-year flood from Easkoot Creek. Strong winter storms have potential to erode the beach width, affecting visitation at one of Marin’s most popular beaches. Nearly half of all Stinson parcels are exposed to emergent or shallow groundwater, putting septic and underground utilities at flood risk.
That’s all existing today. What will happen when the ocean level rises?
“We need to know what the future might look like in order for us to plan for adaptations,” said Jack Liebster, a recently retired CDA Planning Manager who spent his career focused on protecting California’s coast. “We’ve been diligent and straightforward with the scientific realities as we look at all the ‘what ifs.’ At the May 18 meeting, it’s mostly going to be a summary of the new report and answer the question, ‘What if we do nothing?’”
At the April 29 meeting in Stinson, several attendees expressed appreciation for the project and asked what they can do now to prepare for next winter’s storms. Supervisor Dennis Rodoni and agencies including the National Park Service, Caltrans District 4, the Stinson Beach County Water District Marin County Parks, the Stinson Beach Fire Protection District, and the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary were on hand to share information about their Stinson area sea level rise adaptation plans and projects with residents.
In 2022, CDA kicked off its Stinson Beach Adaptation and Resilience Collaboration (ARC) project, a grant-funded effort to support stakeholders in developing a sea level rise adaptation roadmap for Stinson Beach. CDA staff will work with its consultant team over the next year to identify and analyze feasible adaptation strategies and pathways, carry out stakeholder engagement, and identify possible funding sources for adaptation.
Register for the May 18 online meeting. Read the full ARC report, check the CDA website, listen to a KWMR radio interview, and sign up to receive e-mailed notifications on the topic.
For disability accommodations, please phone (415) 473-6358 (voice), CA Relay 711, or e-mail the Community Development staff at least five business days in advance of the event. The County will do its best to fulfill requests received with less than five business days’ notice. Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.