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Hermosa Beach: how one coastal city is bracing for sea level rise

by Dorian Merina | Take Two®

A view of beach front homes along the coast of Hermosa Beach, a community in the South Bay that is preparing for sea level rise. Dorian Merina / KPCC

California has more than 1,000 miles of coastline that is home to businesses, neighborhoods and vital shipping and agriculture areas.

Sea level rise could pose a risk to much of it, according to the California Coastal Commission. During the past century, California's coastal sea level has risen 8 inches, in pace with the rise globally, according to the Commission. That's expected to increase in the coming decades.

In response, some communities are putting measures in place to get ready for the change.

"We're looking at areas that are vulnerable," said Kristy Morris, environmental analyst with the city of Hermosa Beach, a small coastal community in the South Bay.

Kristy Morris, environmental analyst with the city of Hermosa Beach, stands near the pier, where scientists predict sea level rise could affect businesses and homes in the coming years.

The city has created high sand berms by the pier, is stacking sand bags by the strand wall and is trying to make sure storm drains will flow freely, especially ahead of an expectedly strong El Niño, said Morris.

"That's probably our biggest mitigation measure, really getting down into those storm drains and giving them a good clean," she said. "And then a lot of education and outreach to residents."

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