As sea levels rise, LB promotes new plan based on ‘action’ and ‘adaptation’

Residents gather to learn more about the consequences of a rising sea level and how to protect their homes from flood damage


Photos by Daniel Green | Signal Tribune

Jerry Schubel, president and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific, explains how climate change has led to a rising sea level in Long Beach during an event Jan. 14 at the Best Western Golden Sails Hotel. Schubel was one of three guests invited to speak to homeowners about the long-term problems facing the city.

As the national discussion concerning climate change continues, residents of Long Beach gathered in the Crystal Ballroom at the Best Western Golden Sails Hotel to learn how global warming is expected to hit close to home.

On Monday, Jan. 14, the City of Long Beach hosted an event on its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) that focused on the consequences of a rising sea level and how homeowners can prepare their properties against changing weather patterns.

Christopher Koontz, planning bureau manager for the City of Long Beach, spoke to the Signal Tribune on Monday, saying that the night was about “preparedness,” both for residents and the city itself.

“What we’re trying to do is provide people those tools to make those decisions that are best for them and to improve their level of preparedness, and then to fix our own backyard,” Koontz said.

The event was opened by Linda F. Tatum, director of development services, who began by thanking the crowd for making the trek through the rain, before giving a brief explanation of how Long Beach plans to combat the effects of global warming.

“As we’ve seen in recent years, more severe storms have been coming our way, and they’ve been leading to flooding and other impacts greater than they have in the past,” Tatum said. “Climate change is real. It is not some fiction of our imaginations, and according to research that’s been compiled by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, it is already impacting our health. Also, 90 percent of climate experts agree that human activities are the leading cause of climate change.”

The event included a series of presentations and a panel featuring Long Beach City Planner Alison Spindler, President and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific Jerry Schubel and Jeff Jeannette of Jeannette Architects.

Attendees were also encouraged to view poster boards in the back of the hall that described different topics concerning climate change and were asked to vote by placing stickers under the issue they found the most important.

The presentation portion of the event was kicked off by Spindler, who described the problem of climate change as a “multi-generational issue.”

She continued by explaining how the City developed the plan, what its main concerns are regarding climate change and how they plan to address it.

“So, what is the CAAP?” Spindler said. “It will be for Long Beach our first-ever plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions citywide, while also preparing for the impacts of climate change [and] improving our quality of life and economic vitality.

While the CAAP shows the “actions” the City intends to implement, it also explains how it will “adapt” to the rising sea levels.

Adaptation strategies include updating floodplain management ordinance, relocating or elevating critical infrastructure, elevating homes and businesses and updating the City’s emergency-response plan.

Residents of Long Beach and surrounding areas gathered Jan. 14 at the Best Western Golden Sails Hotel to learn more about rising sea levels and how to protect their homes. The event was hosted by City of Long Beach officials, who presented the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP).

Even though the main topic discussed was the rising sea level, Spindler did take time to mention the potential problem of extreme heat brought on by climate change.

According to Koontz, the potential for changes in extreme heat are a bigger concern for the city, since it could affect a larger portion of residents, most who do not live near the ocean.

“Sea-level rise is one issue,” Koontz said. “But, for most people in Long Beach, what they’re going to be impacted by is extreme heat, not sea-level rise.”

Spindler ended her portion of the presentation by encouraging attendees to visit the open house being held at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library on Saturday, Jan. 26, where the residents can learn more about the issues facing Long Beach and the surrounding areas.

The open house will begin a “30-day public comment period” that will allow the community to weigh in on CAAP. The City hopes to have a draft of the plan by March.

The next portion of the event was hosted by Schubel. In his presentation, Schubel, who holds a doctorate in oceanography from John Hopkins University, explained the science around the rising sea level and what residents can expect in the future.

According to Schubel, the Earth’s crust is sinking by a millimeter every year. The main contributor to the rising sea level are Co2 emissions, which causes continental ice to melt.

Using Greenland as an example, Schubel explained that, if the island were to melt, it would raise the world’s sea levels by 20 feet. Additionally, if Antarctica were to completely melt, it would raise the sea level by 200 feet.

“[It is] predicted that, by 2050, we could have a global rise of sea level of 2 to 3 feet,” Schubel said, “and that, by 2100, it could be 7 to 10 feet.”

He went on to explain that the future of climate change depends on how fast the world can cut global emissions, which increased in 2017 and again in 2018.

“This is the problem,” Schubel said. “50 percent of it stays for decades, 30 percent of it stays for centuries and 20 percent of its stays for millennia.”

He also urged California to take larger steps to reduce the amount of Co2 released every year. Even though much of the world’s emissions come from places like Asia, California releases 5 to 10 percent of the world’s Co2.

“We in this room, and I’m one of them, think everything good begins and ends in California. When it comes to climate change, where we don’t play the major role now, we can play a leadership role that’s important,” Schubel said.

Following Schubel was Jeannette, an architect with 18 years of experience of designing houses in the flood plains. In his presentation, Jeannette explained how architects design around water, and that it is impossible to keep flood water out.

“The first thing to know is that water will win– we can’t fight it,” Jeannette said.

Instead, he explained different ways homeowners can protect their property, such as raising the foundation, installing flood vents and applying spray-foam insulation.

Jeannette wrapped up his portion of the presentations by recommending that audience members visit for more information.

The night was capped off with a panel discussion with the presenters. The questions came from the audience, who were given cards to write on.

Inquiries included topics surrounding low-income residents, raising a concrete slab on a home, building a lock off the coast and more.

Schubel ended the night by telling the audience climate change is a global issue.

“I think the best thing that we can do is not wait,” he said. “The worst thing we can do is just sit and stay idle.”