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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.


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


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"

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

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

Related Links