Adapting to sea level rise raises significant legal questions for local governments, especially in California. On the one hand, taking action could decrease risk to the community, but increase litigation risk from aggrieved property owners or public interest groups, depending on the nature of the action. On the other hand, a local government could decide not to act, exposing people and infrastructure to excess risk, while potentially exposing itself to litigation if the lack of action causes harm to individuals or public trust property. Risk is thus unavoidable. However, different adaptation strategies (including deciding not to take action) carry different risk profiles. This report concisely summarizes the legal risks and administrative hurdles associated with different adaptation strategies in order to facilitate informed decisionmaking. An Executive Summary to the full report is also available.
Legal Risk Analysis for Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies in San Diego