SB 1: Critical Protections for California’s Coast, Communities

March 22, 2021

SACRAMENTO – On World Water Day 2021, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), and climate change experts called on Californians to encourage their communities to support SB 1, legislation authored by Pro Tem Atkins to provide tools for California 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,” Pro Tem 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.”

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 SB 45, 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. The bill specifies that the funding would allocate $100 million per year 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 Petrie-Norris. “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.”

Pro Tem Atkins added, “We’re already seeing the very real impacts of sea level rise my district and throughout coastal communities up and down the state. We see tell-tale signs in the King Tides – these periodic massive high tides give us a glimpse into how our neighborhoods will be impacted as seas continue to rise, flooding our streets and homes, threatening our businesses and military installations. It’s critical that all communities, especially communities of color and disadvantaged communities, are given the tools, funding, and support they need to address this climate change issue.”


Here is what others are saying about SB 1 and sea level rise:

“For decades, we have watched the slow march of sea level rise’s impact on California’s coast. With SB 1, we can finally do away with a patchwork of efforts and address one of the greatest climate threats we know. As a mayor of Santa Cruz over three decades ago, I faced the challenges of coastal erosion in our city. I will do everything possible to see this bill gets passed and get properly implemented. The future of our coast depends on it.”

—Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), former Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency


"Even the minimum projections for sea level rise are poised to be a big threat and costly expense to California’s coastal committees, affecting every part of the coast. It is critical we use the best science available now to inform and prioritize decision-making for coastal adaptation solutions.”

—Dr. Margaret Leinen, Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences at UC San Diego and Director of the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography


“For coastal cities impacted by sea level rise and coastal flooding, SB1 will be an equitable lifeline for planning and carrying out climate mitigation planning and programs that put communities and our natural communities first.”

—Serge Dedina, Mayor of Imperial Beach


"The harm sea level rise will do to California’s people, economy and ocean life has been spelled out in numerous studies including the state’s own. With each report, with every model, the message is the same: if we do not take swift action, we will lose our beaches, imperil frontline communities, upend our economy and allow some of the most biodiverse coastline in the world to disappear. SB 1 would give us a shot at saving our beaches, building on coastal access equity, preserving biodiversity along our coastline, fostering our coastal economy into the future – in short, the bill would ensure California’s most defining and democratic space, our coast, is protected like the treasure it is."
—Jennifer Savage, Surfrider Foundation


“San Diego’s coast provides a gateway for economic activity in tourism, business, defense, global trade and more. With the Port of San Diego and local research institutes, developers and blue/cleantech businesses at the heart of our region’s waterfront, it’s important we all support the protection and resilience of this economic driver.”

—Mark Cafferty, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation




Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins:

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