Financial Liability & Legal Issues for Cities Related to Sea Level Rise

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Nossaman Partners John Erskine and Ben Rubin recently presented at the International Right of Way Association (IRWA) Chapter 1’s 28th Annual Valuation Seminar in Montebello, CA, where they provided a presentation entitled “Rising Sea Levels - Financial Liability Issues to Cities & Legal Issues.”  Sea Level Rise is a critical issue facing public agencies and property owners throughout the U.S.  In California alone, this phenomenon could impact thousands of residences and businesses, dozens of wastewater treatment plants and power plants, 250 miles of highway, 1,500 miles of roads, and 110 miles of railways.

The discussion provided several key takeaways, including: 

  • How the Coastal Commission’s Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance is impacting local jurisdictions and proposed coastal development;
  • Commentary on the Commission’s most recent (2018) published Best Available Science and the probability of various levels of sea level rise associated with three “risk aversion scenarios”;
  • How the public trust doctrine is being invoked in order to oppose coastal armament; and
  • How the Coastal Commission is conditioning projects and how California courts are evaluating those conditions.  

Stay tuned to California Water Views for regular updates on this important issue.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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