Responses to sea Level Rise Along the Coast of California: Case Studies of Adaptive Practices - Emily Anne Bridgewater


Sea levels are rising due to anthropogenic causes. As the oceans rise, coastal areas and inhabitants become progressively more vulnerable. Central to the exploration of this topic are the questions: What are local government responses to sea level rise along the coast of California? What circumstances lend themselves to either one of the three “adaptive practices” (coastal defense, managed retreat, or adaptive restoration scenarios) that local governments employ to respond to global sea-level rise? Three case studies, along the coast of California, inform this study: Goleta Beach Park in Santa Barbara County, Balboa Island in Orange County, and tidal wetland revitalization in Napa County. Both social vulnerability and resiliency theory have guided this field research and thesis. Qualitative research methods have largely informed my thesis, via semi-structured in-depth interviews, content analysis, site observation, and pictorial representation. Secondary sources and data have also been utilized, mainly for content analysis. The overall purpose and goal of this examination is to critically analyze how local governments are attempting to address the impacts of sea-level rise, what “adaptive practice” scenarios local governments are employing, and community responses to government action (or non-action) to sea-level rise along the coast of California.