Senator Allen Proposes Innovative Funding Program to Address Risks Related to Sea-Level Rise in Vulnerable Communities

Sacramento – The California Legislature will consider establishing an innovative program to help communities plan for and adapt to the long-term impacts of sea-level rise, Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) announced today. SB 1078 would create a revolving loan fund to offer low-interest, state-backed loans for local governments to buy threatened coastal property at a fair price. The measure will prioritize funding for under-resourced communities and those hardest-hit by climate change.


“Frequent record-breaking weather events remind us that the impacts of climate change are already upon us,” said Senator Allen, who chairs the Senate Environmental Quality Committee as well as the bicameral Environmental Caucus. “Coastal cities and counties are facing impossible choices over how to spend their already-strained financial resources. SB 1078 will provide the communities who need it most with a voluntary tool to help them proactively deal with some of the negative effects of rising ocean waters.”


“As California’s chief fiscal officer, I realize that the riskiest response to sea-level rise is inaction. Climate forecasts show rising seas, exacerbating existing socioeconomic inequities, particularly for indigenous and low-income people and communities of color,” said State Controller Betty T. Yee, the bill’s sponsor. “This innovative proposal would reduce future fiscal liability for California taxpayers, offer protections for both homeowners and renters in historically marginalized communities, and safeguard our coastline for generations to come. We must invest now in equitable and bold sea-level rise policy.”


According to a report by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, California Energy Commission, and California Natural Resources Agency, the state’s coastal areas are home to 68 percent of the population and responsible for 80 percent of the gross domestic product. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates $8 billion to $10 billion worth of existing property in California will likely be under water by 2050.


As global temperatures climb, polar ice-cap melts and sea-level rise create a threatening reality. That coastline is projected to experience a half-foot water rise by 2030, a two-foot rise by 2050, and a seven-foot rise by 2100. Heightened water levels exacerbate the damage of coastal erosion, flood events, major storm surges, and saltwater intrusion in vital drinking water supplies.


SB 1078 would ensure the state is taking a holistic view of investments made to protect communities from sea-level rise by integrating this new program with existing local coastal plans and other efforts already underway to address this issue. It is supported by the Surfrider Foundation, California Coastal Protection Network, Sierra Club, and The Nature Conservancy.


The bill will first be heard in March or April in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.


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Ben Allen represents the 26th State Senate District, which consists of the Hollywood, Westside, coastal, and South Bay communities of Los Angeles County. He chairs the Senate Environmental Quality Committee and the Legislative Joint Committee on the Arts.