Sea Level Rise Adaptation Funding & Investment Framework

This data-driven and collaborative research project identified near-term sea level rise adaptation needs and studied possible funding solutions.

BCDC is partnering with the MTC/ABAG on the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Funding and Investment Framework. Together, the agencies developed a funding analysis that can inform local and regional efforts to adapt to sea level rise.

The Way It Is Now: Funding Opportunities & Challenges

In recent years, action at the state and federal levels has created an unprecedented amount of near-term funding for sea level rise adaptation efforts. However, there is still a large funding gap that needs to be addressed so that hundreds of miles of Bay Area shoreline can be adapted and protected against sea level rise impacts. This situation shows a need to research additional funding sources for sea level rise adaptation in the years ahead.

Building on the Work

The Sea Level Rise Adaptation Funding and Investment Framework was identified as a priority action by three already-completed efforts:

Building off of previous Adapting To Rising Tides projects, including the Financing the Future White Paper, the Shoreline Adaptation Project Map (SAPMap) and other regional planning work, this analysis provides better estimates of the total costs for regional sea level rise adaptation, and potential approaches to pay for those costs. This analysis will also help the region prepare for additional funding opportunities by improving resources for advocacy for state and federal funds.

Framework Goals

The Framework is organized within three main project goals:

  • Catalog planned and conceptual sea level rise projects and develop a regional cost estimate
  • Explore how new local and regional revenue for sea level rise adaptation can be raised most equitably
  • Explore possible paths to distribute new funds for sea level rise adaptation

Findings Summary

  • Protecting all portions of the shoreline that will experience sea level rise and storm surge by 2050 is estimated to cost $110 billion. Some decisions may lower or raise the estimate, such as determining how the region prioritizes protection.
  • Of that amount, Bay Area governments can account for just over $5 billion being available through existing federal, state, regional, and local funding programs. This leaves a gap of approximately $105 billion to fill in the next decades.
  • While the cost of tackling this regional challenge is significant, failing to adapt would result in a much larger deficit. Even a partial estimate of the cost of inaction is anticipated to be over $230 billion.
  • Some counties will experience more flooding sooner than others, meaning that adaptation costs are not evenly distributed. Some counties have planned and developed projects more than others, leading to questions about where new funding should go.
  • Filling the funding gap will require a mix of funding types and amounts. There is no single “magic bullet” that can fill a $105 billion gap. Parcel taxes and ad-valorem taxes may be feasible options at the regional or county level, but both would need further study to advance equitable
  • Developing equitable adaptation is paramount. How we fill the funding gap can either exacerbate or maintain existing environmental injustices instead of ameliorating them. From who pays to who benefits, some solutions are simply more equitable than others.
  • A regional approach is critical. Differences among counties in terms of vulnerability and planning indicate the need for a regional approach for funding and project development to ensure no one is left behind.

Project Status

The Final Report, Technical Methodology, Interactive Project Inventory Map, and related spreadsheets were published in July2023.

Findings and Materials

Related Projects

Project Partners

The project is co-led by MTC/ABAG and BCDC and is supported by a Technical Advisory Group. Local and regional engagement occurred throughout the project.