Coastal Adaptation Policy Briefs

To provide a distilled analysis of topics noted as highly relevant to coastal planners throughout our engagement discussions, we produced a compilation of Coastal Adaptation Policy Briefs. The structure of each document was co-developed with city- or county-level coastal planners and the full topic list was reviewed by coastal adaptation practitioners. The approach to each policy brief builds from the methods developed for our legal article on Enabling and Limiting Conditions of Coastal Adaptation

1. Engineered 

Beach Nourishment: 

Artificial placing of sand on a beach to replace eroded sand or to protect against future erosion 

Dune Restoration: 

Engineered project to enhance or restore vulnerable or eroded dune systems 

Elevation of Structures: 

Engineered solution where a structure is raised in response to a current or expected flooding hazard 

Living Shorelines: 

Restoration utilizing plants or other natural elements sometimes in combination with harder shoreline structures to decrease wave impacts 


Large rocks and boulders placed on shoreline to buffer against erosion and waves 


Structures parallel to shorelines that are engineered to protect against encroaching seas 

Wetland Restoration: 

Restoration effort allowing tidal wetlands to recover in areas that have been diked or otherwise altered from their original conditions 


2. Financial 

Buyout Programs: 

Government tool to acquire properties 

Conservation Easements: 

Agreements not to develop property in exchange for money or tax incentives 

Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts (GHADs): 

Special district formed to prevent, mitigate, abate or control some geologic hazard 

Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs): 

Tradable development credit program where development rights are severed from "sending areas" and transferred to "receiving areas" 


3. Legal and Regulatory 

Trigger Language: 

Planning framework whereby an observed event “triggers” a shift to implementing specific adaptation policies 

Development Moratoria:

Temporary development prohibition while planning proceeds 

Overlay Zones: 

An additional set of zoning restrictions that “overlay” the original zoning of a specific area 

Rebuilding and Redevelopment Restrictions: 

Building code amendments to limit the redevelopment allowed in a certain location 


4. Additional Topics 

Public Trust Doctrine (PTD): 

Investigation of the role of the Public Trust Doctrine in sea level rise adaptation planning 

Coastal Adaptation and Takings Law: 

Distillation of current case law regarding takings claims in California