Environment & Science

Rising seas, erosion, could equal fiscal loss for SoCal coastal cities

People walk on the Venice Beach.
People walk on the Venice Beach.
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

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Much of Venice Beach and other local coastal areas could be significantly eroded or flooded by the year 2100 if ocean levels continue rising at current rates, according to a state-commissioned economic study released today by San Francisco State University.

Philip King, an associate professor of economics at San Francisco State University, authored the study and says he has major concerns about the economic impact of rising sea levels.

"In California, our coastline is one of our most valuable natural resources," says King. "More than 80 percent of Californians live in coastal communities, and California's beaches support local economies and critical natural species."

If coastal water levels rise by 4.6 feet by the end of the century, a projection specific to the California coast based on recent studies, Venice could be flooded, according to the study, which didn't look at permanent flood inundation. The economic loss was pegged to reduced tourism at $440 million between now and 2100.

The economic loss in Malibu could be about $500 million by the end of the century, according to the study.

Parts of Zuma Beach, including Broad Beach's "Millionaires Row,'' could be swamped or eroded, as could Torrey Pines Beach in San Diego County, Ocean Beach in San Francisco and Carpinteria Beach in Santa Barbara County.

The study was paid for by the Department of Boating and Waterways, aimed at assessing the effects of rising sea levels on beach erosion and loss of habitat.

This story was updated to say that the loss of beaches would be due to erosion, not inundation, as previously implied. Also added was the fact that the study did not look at permanent flood inundation.