OC Line: What are homeowners and businesses doing about rising sea levels?

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Balboa Island in Orange County. Photo credit: MaxxGirr/Pixabay.

Rising sea levels are making visible impacts on Orange County.

“It’s quite stunning what has been happening to Orange County, even in my lifetime,” says LA Times reporter Gustavo Arellano. “Down in Capistrano Beach, you have boardwalks knocked down. The rainfall this past year was so bad that a seawall they had built in the 1960s, that they had put old cars and concrete on them, you can now see those old cars.”

You can also see the effects of rising sea levels in Laguna Beach, Seal Beach, and on Balboa Island during the winter months that brought extreme storms.

At a Newport Beach city council meeting this week, the California Coastal Commission gave a presentation about the effect climate change will have on OC’s coast.

“Climate change is happening, the sea is going to rise,” says Arellano. “They give a 92% chance of it rising one foot, a 58% chance of rising two feet, and a worst case scenario of rising 6 feet (by 2100).”

What are businesses and homeowners doing? Not much, according to Arellano.

“It’s like Chicken Little or like the Boy who Cried Wolf. It’s almost a human thing. It’s going to happen, but it’s not going to happen to me, so let’s just live life like nothing’s going to happen.”

While the Coastal Commission recommends a managed retreat, moving homes and critical infrastructure inland to allow the ocean to expand landward, most communities are considering coastal armoring like sea walls and boulders.