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Marin Sea Level Rise Adaptation

Organizational Structure and Decision Making Process

A Coordinated Approach to Sea Level Rise Adaptation

Today, there are many jurisdictions, public agencies, and organizations across the county that are planning for and implementing sea level rise adaptation projects, but there is no formalized, coordinated approach to sea level rise adaptation policy and planning.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive strategy for effective planning and project implementation across disciplines and jurisdictions, the County is funding this project to engage with stakeholders across the county to understand the potential for a multi-jurisdictional governance structure and decision-making process. The project is intended to answer the following questions:

  1. How can Marin County best work with its communities, cities, towns, state, and federal agencies to advance solutions to sea level rise?
  2. How can the County organize County staff and resources effectively and efficiently to prepare for sea level rise and deliver future adaptation projects?

Sea Level Rise Impacts and Challenges in Marin County

Marin County is one of the most vulnerable counties to sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area. The county has over 70 miles of coastal and 40 miles of bay shoreline, much of which is low lying and subject to direct tidal flooding as well as creek and storm flooding. Rising sea levels will deeply impact Marin communities across many aspects of day-to-day life; recent assessments estimate that by 2100 around 7,000 acres, 9,000 parcels, 10,000 buildings and 120 miles of roads throughout Marin County will be exposed to sea level rise and the 100-year storm.

While Marin’s sea level rise vulnerabilities have been well studied and documented, there is a gap between the scale of adaptation that needs to occur and the number of adaptation projects that have been implemented, and a shrinking window to bridge this gap before sea level rise rapidly escalates flooding and damages.

Addressing sea level rise is challenging in Marin County; some key challenges include:

  • Communities, public access, vital habitats, and major infrastructure are concentrated along vulnerable areas. Decisions related to sea level rise adaptation have broad implications that affect all Marin residents and visitors.
  • Both public and private assets are impacted by sea level rise creating a diverse array of interests and priorities.
  • Complex environmental permitting and regulatory requirements that can be difficult and resource-intensive to navigate.
  • A need for funding and resources to study, plan, and implement projects; state and federal grant opportunities are competitive, and there are competing demands on local budgets.

The goal is to identify a multi-jurisdictional governance approach that achieves the following objectives:

  1. Build upon existing sea level rise efforts to acknowledge and bring together local knowledge and expertise and to avoid duplicating efforts.
  2. Create an inclusive approach that engages all relevant stakeholders and centers racial equity, ensuring access to and transparency of decision-making.
  3. Deliver a coordinated Sea Level Rise adaptation program by creating an entity that can develop and lead sea level rise adaptation program county-wide
  4. Maximize funding opportunities with an entity that can maximize the ability of Marin County to obtain grants and other financing streams from regional, state, and federal sources.

Process & Timeline

This project is organized into three primary phases:

  • PHASE 1 (SPRING to FALL 2024): Conduct Research and Stakeholder Engagement to understand community and agency priorities, challenges, and needs as they relate to sea level rise planning and project implementation.
  • PHASE 2 (FALL 2024 to WINTER 2025): Identify Governance Structure Alternatives based on input received in Phase 1 and prioritize and refine these alternatives in collaboration with community stakeholders.
  • PHASE 3 (SPRING 2025): Develop Recommendations for an alternative multi-jurisdictional governance structure and decision-making process.

Equity-driven Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Community and stakeholder input will inform and guide all phases of this project. While the project is in the very early stages of kicking off now, in the coming months there will be several avenues for the community and stakeholders to provide input.

Your input will:

  1. Improve the depth and accuracy of our understanding existing county sea level rise adaptation efforts.
  2. Shape the priorities and support the development of a county-wide sea level rise adaptation governance structure and decision-making process
  3. Inform the proposed recommended pathway to implementation of a proposed county-wide sea level rise adaptation governance structure and decision-making process recommendation.

Opportunities for participation will be shared on this website. For questions, or to sign up for our mailing list, please email [email protected].


Page updated June 28, 2024