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Climate Change Adaptation:

Taking the Heat!

Planner Emeritus Network – APA California 2009 Conference



An international design competition for ideas responding

to sea level rise in San Francisco bay and beyond


1-2 meter rise in next 100 years

5-7 meter rise long term or if Greenland ice sheet melts

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)This competition looks for design solutions to global sea-level rise to avoid flooded communities, inundated transportation facilities and submerged wetlands.

April – June 2009

+ 1 m (3 ft)




Good News: Original Bay surface returns


San Francisco International Airport

One Meter Sea Level Rise

Oakland International Airport

One Meter Sea Level Rise


CA Climate Adaptation Working Groups have been formed:

the california climate adaptation strategy


Discussion Draft Overview

Anthony Brunello

California Natural Resources Agency


Why Adapt to Climate Change?

  • Climate change impacts are already occurring
  • Future climate impacts projected to be worse
  • No adaptation could put $2.5 trillion at risk
  • Opportunity to reduce risks and build resilience
  • Already requirement under CEQA
  • Governor Schchwarzenegger said so:EO S-13-08

Why Adapt to Climate Change?

July Temperatures (Cayan, Scripps Institute)





How was the Climate Adaptation Strategy Developed

  • Led by CNRA under the Climate Action Team
  • State agency focus
  • Beginning of discussion, not end
  • Six Agencies led 7 different Working Groups
  • Coordinated with state mitigation plan
  • Focused on “Adaptation troika”
  • Strategies = short and long term

Key Recommendations

  • Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel
  • Adapt water mgmt. and use for climate change
  • Avoid significant new development in high risk areas
  • Sector agencies develop adaptation plans
  • CEQA
  • Develop climate hazard mitigation plan including identification of most vulnerable communities

Key Recommendations

  • Identify most vulnerable habitats
  • Provide guidance to local communities on assessing ways to maintain/improve public health under climate change
  • Offer guidance/tools for local community planning
  • Identify wildfire risk areas
  • Increase renewable energy supply/efficiency
  • Make synthesized research results easily accessible

Next Steps

Public comment period ends September 17th

Focus on short term implementation actions

Need your help for implementation

Go to for more information


Climate Change Adaptation-taking the Heat!

APACA Conference 2009

Julia Lave Johnston

Deputy Director Planning Policy , OPR


Executive Order (EO) S-13-08 By May 30, 2009, OPR, in cooperation with the California Resources Agency, shall provide state land-use planning guidance related to sea level rise and other climate change impacts.

state adaptation plan recommendations

State Adaptation Plan Recommendations

• Consider project alternatives that avoid significant new development in areas prone to flooding, sea-level rise, temperature changes, and precipitation changes.

• To the extent possible, communities should amend general plans and local coastal plans to avoid potential climate impacts.

• Major development and infrastructure projects should consider climate change impacts in order to comply with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines.


• Implement strategies to achieve a statewide 20 percent reduction in per capita water use by 2020.


• Coordinate hazard mitigation plans and assessments for managing increasing fire risk, flood, heat induced mortalities, and other hazards due to climate change.

• Manage public health, infrastructure or habitat, to the extent that these are subject to climate change impacts, from sea level rise, increased temperature, and changing precipitation. This includes assessments of land use, housing and transportation proposals that could impact health, greenhouse gas emissions, and community resilience for climate change in keeping with SB 375 that addresses creating sustainable communities.

• Work to meet projected population growth and increased energy demand with greater energy conservation.

strategic growth council
Strategic Growth Council
  • Coordinating member agencies’ funding activities and programs
  • Reviewing and commenting on the state’s five-year infrastructure plan and the Governor’s Environmental Goals and Policy Report (EGPR)
  • Recommending policies and investment strategies and priorities to the Governor, Legislature, and to appropriate state agencies
  • Providing and distributing funding and data to local governments and regional agencies to meet SGC goals
sgc objectives
SGC Objectives
  • Improve air and water quality.
  • Protect natural resource and agriculture lands.
  • Increase the availability of affordable housing.
  • Improve the transportation system.
  • Promote public health.
  • Assist state and local entities in the

planning of sustainable communities

and meeting AB 32 goals.

land use subgroup of cat luscat
Land Use Subgroup of CAT (LUSCAT)
  • Team of State Agencies involved in Land Use
      • Coordinate State agency activities related to the climate change land use strategies.
      • Develop State agency land use strategies for 2008 CAT Report.
      • Provide a centralized location for stakeholder input regarding the State’s land use climate change activities.
  • Develop and disseminate tools and resources to assist local governments in their efforts to adopt and implement climate action plans.
climate change adaptation bringing your community along

Climate Change Adaptation: Bringing Your Community Along

Ken Topping, FAICP

Topping Associates International

climate change adaptation issues
Climate Change Adaptation Issues
  • Issue #1: “Risk denial” 
  • Issue #2: Terminology
    • “Mitigation” = greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction
    • “Adaptation” = natural hazards mitigation
  • Issue #3: Timely action
    • Only one decade for GHG reduction to avert irreversible feedback loop*

(see Mark Lynas, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, 2008)

    • Need to prioritize community action based on vulnerability and risk

Source: Natural Hazard Observer, November, 2008

climate change impacts more and bigger natural disasters
Climate Change Impacts: More and Bigger Natural Disasters
  • Sea level rise
  • Severe winds, storms
  • Floods, mudslides
  • Wildfires
  • Prolonged drought  depleted water supply  desertification
  • Species changes
  • Urban heat zones
  • Agricultural disruption

Source: Bay Conservation and

Development Commission

this is not a good sight in your town
This is not a good sight in your town…

Santa Barbara 2007 & 2008

Santa Cruz 2008

Source: Dan Turner

2007 california state multi hazard mitigation plan

2007 California State Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan

California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), supported by CRP, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo

Recognizes climate change from global warming impacts, and need to link “mitigation” and “adaptation” policies and actions

Reviewed 400+ Local Hazard Mitigation Plans


Key Recommendations

3. Avoid significant new development in high risk areas

6. Develop climate hazard mitigation plan including identification of most vulnerable communities

9. Offer guidance/tools for local community planning

10. Identify wildfire risk areas

what is sustainability
What is Sustainability?
  • Sustainable development =

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

    • World Commission on Environment and Development (Bruntland Commission), Our Common Future, 1987
  • Sustainability implies continuity of resources (environmental, physical, economic, social, cultural, historical)
  • Disasters block sustainability by destroying resources :
    • Losses from Hurricane Katrina were both
      • Catastrophic
      • Irreversible
what is mitigation
What is Mitigation?

FEMA: “Sustained action to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to human life and property from natural and human-caused hazards”

For example:

Avoid development in hazardous areas

Build flood walls to protect vulnerable development

Use fire-safe construction in wildfire areas

Hazard mitigation is a good investment: $4 loss avoidance for every $1 spent

(see: Rose, Adam et al. “Benefit-Cost Analysis of FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grants” Natural Hazards Review, ASCE, November 2007)

Flood wall protects mobile homes threatened by Napa River flooding, 2005

Source: City of Yountville

general plan mainstreaming hazard mitigation
General Plan: Mainstreaming Hazard Mitigation
  • General plan must be internally consistent: land use, safety, and all other elements
  • Zoning, subdivisions, capital projects must be consistent with general plan
  • AB 2140 (2006) – Post-disaster state financial assistance is provided cities and counties which adopt Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (DMA 2000) with safety element
  • AB 162 (2007) – Land use, housing, and conservation elements must make include latest floodplain mapping
Atascadero General Plan Safety Element showing 100-year floodplain

Floodplain crosses overlay zone site in two locations

Case Study Example:

Existing Conditions

Dove Creek Hazard Mitigation

hazard mitigation in new development
Hazard Mitigation in New Development

Some Routine Strategies:

  • Refine federal-state hazard mapping
  • Place development away from hazardous areas
  • Lay out parcel and street boundaries to avoid hazards
  • Increase densities in safer areas
  • Emergency access-evacuation: require multiple entry-exit points
hazard mitigation in existing communities
Hazard Mitigation in Existing Communities

City of Roseville Property Buy Out

Some Routine Strategies:

  • Buy out hazardous properties
  • Elevate structures in floodplains
  • Require structural retrofits
  • Add multiple access points for emergency access-evacuation
  • Use economic development, redevelopment, historic preservation as tools

Elevated home,

New Orleans, January 2008

Source: K. Topping

what we must do
What We Must Do
  • Get smart about climate change implications for our own communities
  • Mainstream hazard mitigation into community design for existing as well as new development
  • Adopt our Local Hazard Mitigation Plans as part of General Plans
  • Bring local stakeholders along