Sea Level Rise - Nature bats last

“It’s going to be a managed retreat

or an unmanaged retreat

because the ocean is coming

and nature bats last.”

                                                                                    Sarah Christie, Coastal Commission Legislative Director



Californians, along with many others around the world that have chosen to live on the coast, need to make a decision: They must decide between approving more development on the coast or preserving our beaches. This has become a highly controversial issue as sea levels rise, damages mount, and legislative attempts to destroy the strongest laws that protect our beaches increase.

Because this issue is so contentious, and so many different viewpoints are involved, it’s difficult to write an article that presents a balanced point of view.  I’m an environmental activist and have worked with the California Coastal Commission for decades to protect and preserve our finite coastal resources, including the very sand that makes up our beaches, so sharing my point of view on this may be a bit one-sided. 

For example, I have been involved in a prolonged fight to remove a seawall and a portion of an unpermitted home at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach.  The fight at Victoria over one seawall only scratches the surface of the problem at that lovely beach.  There are multiple unpermitted seawalls in front of huge mansions, and Blue Lagoon condos continue to reinforce a huge seawall that adds to the beach’s destruction.  In addition, a lateral seawall extends all the way down the beach at the north end of the Montage Resort, which is at the far south end of Victoria.  Natural sand replenishment to this beach is becoming impossible, and will mean the total loss of this beach at some point in the not-too-distant future. 

This is an issue on which concerned environmental activists cannot remain silent.  The California Coastal Commission meets monthly, and Public Comment is open every morning of its 3-day meeting at 9 AM.  You are given two minutes to speak and can present a PowerPoint if submitted in advance.  Think about supporting the Coastal Commission at this important juncture when power hungry politicians in Sacramento are attempting to weaken the Coastal Act to open the entire California coast to development.

See the schedule of meetings here.  The next LA/Orange County meeting is scheduled for April, so if you wish to present in person, it’s usually a doable drive.  Virtual testimony is always an easy option, and the only thing we can thank COVID for.  Speaking guidelines are available every month at the top of the agenda.  Here is the example for February.

If you enjoy the beach, learn why sea level rise is truly Mother Nature batting last.

For a little history about the fight for Victoria Beach that all began with the City of Laguna Beach turning a blind eye to unpermitted development.

Since I have my own bias, here are some links on various sea level rise and coastal development issues that present a variety of viewpoints.  Please take some time to choose one or two articles to find out more about this crisis that threatens our beaches, or dive in and read them all. I also recommend two excellent books if you really want to dig into the issue.


Capo Beach in South Orange County

Legislation and Politics

Educating Property Owners with Facts vs. Fiction


Pilkey, Orrin and J.A.G. Cooper, The Last Beach. Duke UP, 2014.

Xia, Rosanna. California Against the Sea. Heyday, 2023.


Interview with Rosanna Xia on EcoJustice Radio