A fisherman on the Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. Photo by Chris Stone

State Sen. President Toni Atkins used the occasion of World Water Day 2021 on Monday to urge Californians to support Senate Bill 1, legislation she authored to combat sea level rise. 

“Countless lives and businesses, from Crescent City in the North to Imperial Beach in the South, could be upended if California does not take action,” Atkins said. 

“From clean drinking water to water supply for crops to the magnificent Pacific Ocean that buoys life in our coastal communities, water is a cornerstone of life for our entire state’s environment and our economy, and it’s being jeopardized as climate changes cause our oceans to warm and our sea levels to rise,” the Democrat from San Diego said at a press conference.

SB 1 directs the California Coastal Commission to take sea level rise into account in its planning, policies, and activities, and would establish the California Sea Level Rise State and Regional Support Collaborative, a cross-government group tasked with educating the public and advising local, regional, and state government on feasible sea level rise mitigation efforts.

The bill also would expand funding to assist more disadvantaged communities along the coast that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise and are actively working to address environmental justice issues.

Funding for SB 1 is included in a $5.5 billion bond measure that includes $970 million for coastal protection and restoration. That funding is intended to address sea level rise, which includes better local and regional planning and project investment. Some $100 million per year would be allocated for this effort.

“We rely on our beaches as an indispensable respite for our communities as well as an economic driver for tourism,” said principal co-author Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris of Laguna Beach. “SB 1 represents the first comprehensive effort of its kind to ensure sea level rise is accounted for as we address the threats of climate change today and protect the coast for posterity tomorrow.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.