Long Beach SLR

Over ten weeks in the winter of 2017, sixteen BSLA students my LA402L Advanced Landscape Architecture Studio at California State Polytechnic University, in collaboration with AHBE Landscape Architects (Los Angeles), developed site-specific strategies and tactics to assist the City of Long Beach’s efforts to plan for sea level rise (SLR). These tactics and strategies are suitable for deployment across Southern California to sustain our coastline and vibrant waterfronts.

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In the next 100 years, low lying communities in Long Beach within +/- 10 feet of mean sea level (per the 2017 USGS CoSMOS 3.0 study), will experience increasing inundation and coastal erosion during storms, king tides, and El Nino events.

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Project locations were strategically picked to explore a range of different demographic and urban conditions.

This report shares the studio’s designs and green infrastructure strategies and tactics for SLR. Green infrastructure strategies utilize ecosystem services to provide similar (or enhanced) performance compared to traditional infrastructure approaches – while also providing ecological habitats, plus recreational and aesthetic amenities for the community at similar or lower construction costs.

SLR strategies identified by LA402L provide a range of short-term mitigation of the impacts and/or long-term adaption opportunities for the community and waterfront. These strategies can be categorized as:

Centralized strategies are defined by top-down policies or regulations, neighborhood or community-wide deployment, and reliance on public funding.

Decentralized strategies can be implemented and funded by property owners and occupants to a single parcels or block, though may require changes to zoning or building code.

Together this classification of strategies as Mitigation/Adaptation and Centralized/Decentralized are referred to in this report as “DCxMA”.

Mitigation Strategies:

  • Wave attenuation: living breakwater, sandbars, oyster reefs
  • Coastal armor
  • Tidal/Storm barriers
  • Groundwater injection

Adaptation Strategies:

  • Amphibious neighborhoods, canalification, floodable buildings, raised buildings, and floating buildings
  • Strategic retreat, eco-retreat
  • Abandonment (leaving all structures standing, removal of the above ground structures, or removal of all structures/foundations/paving)

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Long Beach (and other coastal communities around the world) face difficult environmental and social justice policy decisions over the next several decades on how to best allocate funds for SLR mitigation, resilience, and adaptation.


High resolution printed copies of the LA402L Long Beach Sea Level Rise Strategies report are available for purchase. Contact Prof.  B Lehrman at CPP.edu if interested.