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Posted: Friday, April 5, 2019 4:37 pm

On March 26 I was privileged to represent Coronado at the 2019 San Diego Climate Summit. It was held at the Robert Paine Forum at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and was billed as a regional dialogue about climate change on the San Diego Region. Built on the foundation of the State of California’s Fourth Assessment recently released there is some sobering news for Coronado regarding sea level rise and more generally, predicted climate variations that look certain to need addressing as we move forward with land use, water and other policy discussions.

The day began with Dr. Dan Cayan and Dr. Julie Kalansky sharing specific findings that relate directly to our San Diego Region. These include increases in frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves, highly variable precipitation intensified with wetter winders, drier springs and more frequent and severe droughts punctuated by more intense individual precipitation events. For me the deluge of Dec. 6, 2018 immediately comes to mind. Additionally, already noticed changes in our weather have altered our local ability to maintain certain species of trees as several of our historic pines along Orange avenue have needed replacement with more resilient species of tree.

Regarding sea level rise, data was shared that there is strong likelihood that we will experience a rise of 1-3 feet by the end of our current century. Moreover, the strongest factors driving the stresses placed on our city by this will be felt during high tides combined with strong winter storms and wind driven waves. These dangers are expected to become more acute post-2050. Coronado’s over 10 miles of ocean coastline will be ground zero for these expected changes.

Next up was a panel focused upon preparing our regions energy, water and transportation infrastructure for these expected events. SDGE shared that their wild fire risk monitoring and power line monitoring has received huge attention by the company and that their weather and wind data gathering is top of mind for the corporation. In addition, the San Diego Airport Authority discussed storm water capture and reuse as well as their on-going sustainablity measures through out their operations and facilities.

The San Diego County Water Authority talked about supply diversification, a path chosen over a decade ago that has had great results and means more stable supplies for our region. This diversification strategy goes directly to Coronado’s decision to pursue our own source of irrigation water for our local green spaces and our golf course. Far from being a poor use of local and state funds, in the words of the water authority’s Tim Bombardier speaking more broadly on water resource planning, “the cost of no action is significantly greater.”

From the Navy’s perspective, sea level rise is real and has implications for national security. This view was shared by Garth Nagel who highlighted the memorandum of understanding signed between the Port and the Navy to share resources and planning efforts. For Coronado specifically, the Navy is embarking soon on what is expected to be a two year sea level rise vulnerability assessment of the Naval Amphibious Base and it is sure to have some findings directly helpful as Coronado works toward securing the safety of the Coronado Shores and our beaches overall.

My most sobering conversation came following the Shore Line Changes panel with Scripps scientist Dr. Adam Young. His focus is on bluff erosion and I asked him about the Del Mar Bluffs and their continued erosion threatening rail service along our coast. At the SANDAG Transportation Committee where I serve as Vice Chair, we recently had a presentation on the fourth version of bluff stabilization that begins soon at a cost of $4 million while version 5 is already in the planning stages and looks to cost in the tens of millions. My question to him was “When will we simply be unable to save the rail right of way no matter what engineering fix is proposed?” He shared that in his view, we already have reached that point and as an example he pointed to the numerous closures that result when engineers must inspect the tracks following the now weekly rock slides slowly but inevitably creeping towards the tracks.

As I reflect on my five years on City Council I am proud that we have moved to address many of the issues discussed at the Climate Summit. We have approved preparing both a climate assessment and sea level rise study. We have moved deliberately towards a local sustainably sourced supply of irrigation water. We have and will continue to address ground water issues in the Country Club area. We are repairing sea walls in the Cays. We are embarking on storm water infrastructure improvements in the area of 
Fourth and I Avenue with a larger capacity out fall in the bay at I Avenue. 

Please know that I am 100 percent committed to keeping Coronado on a prescient path mindful of climate issues and I will be continually responsive to the long-term challenges faced by our wonderful community.

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