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News Release —
Supervisors Allocate $500,000 to Tackle Sea Level Rise

Project aims to create unified structure and holistic approach for building a resilient future
A sign in the sand at Stinson Beach says "Sea Level, 2030" as a reminder about climate change.
 March 20, 2024

Body of News Release

San Rafael, CA – Adaptation to climate change is one of the top priorities for the County of Marin, which is surrounded on three sides by water and is one of the most vulnerable counties to sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The County took an important step toward climate resiliency March 19 when the Marin County Supervisors committed a $500,000 investment to embark on a project that will recommend a unified approach and countywide governance structure to respond to sea level rise. This structure will address how all Marin city, town, County, utility and transportation agencies might work together to address sea level rise more holistically.

Seal level rise drastically affects Marin’s low-lying areas along the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. The county has over 70 miles of ocean coastline 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. In Marin and many other waterfront communities, neighborhoods with a higher percentage of people of color are disproportionately impacted by sea level rise.

“This project presents an opportunity to address disparities and close race-equity gaps while tackling critical long-term planning,” said Ariel Espiritu Santo, Assistant County Executive. “Our intention is that a multi-jurisdictional governance model would address the uniqueness of each individual geographic area of Marin, while lifting up the voices of those community members who are most directly impacted to provide more equitable outcomes.”

For years, staff from several County departments have worked on adaptation plans and public education about how lives are changing amid rising waters. The Community Development Agency has two longstanding programs – C-SMART for oceanfront communities and BayWAVE for bayfront neighborhoods – that both address sea level rise. For instance, the Stinson Beach Adaptation and Resilience Collaboration is set up to explore the pros and cons of the beach community’s options for adaptation. 

Results from the 2023 Marin County Community Survey showed that 77% of respondents said it was essential or very important for Marin to focus on addressing sea level rise, and 76% said the same thing about climate change in general. In addition, 90% responded that improved disaster preparedness was essential or very important. Survey respondents largely affirmed the Board’s countywide priorities:

  • Building a racially equitable community
  • Investing in County infrastructure
  • Preserving and increasing affordable housing, and addressing homelessness
  • Reducing carbon emissions and adapting to climate change
  • Enhancing disaster preparedness, and
  • Addressing County workforce recruitment and retention

“This has been a long time coming,” said District 2 Supervisor Katie Rice, who serves on the Board’s climate change subcommittee with District 3 Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters. “For years we have been gathering data to better understand our vulnerability, and now we’re ready to take the next step. There is significant federal funding available for us to tackle this work, and the County is committed to working with our partners – town and city councils, community leaders, and special districts – to access these dollars and address sea level rise collectively.”

To guide this project, the County will contract with AECOM Technical Services, Inc (ATS), a firm that specializes in infrastructure consulting. ATS is a global full-service consultancy with over 47,000 planners, strategy consultants, economists, designers, architects, engineers, builders, and project managers around the world. 

Funding for the contract is sourced from General Fund balance from the 2023-2024 fiscal year that was set aside to support climate resiliency.  The project team plans to report back to the Supervisors periodically about progress and milestones. Public engagement opportunities will be available and announced once the contract is underway. 


Page updated March 20, 2024