City of San Diego Releasing Plan to Tackle Climate Change
“If we know we are dealing with a changing climate, how do we adapt? And not just how do we adapt, but how do we make our communities and our lives even better when we look at investments to adapt to climate change? suits,” said Heidi Vonblum, deputy director in the City of San Diego’s Planning Department.
The City of San Diego is gearing up to release a Climate Action Plan with lists of ideas on how the city can help tackle climate change.
The Climate-proof SD plan identified four primary climate change hazards that pose a risk to San Diego: sea level rise, flooding/drought, extreme heat, wildfires. The plan outlines various actions that can be taken to combat the four different categories, plus any costs and also pros and cons.
Sea level rise adjustment strategies include:
- Control options: Update development regulations, zoning, permitting processes and standards to reduce development exposure to climate change hazards and improve the ability to respond to climate change hazards.
- Beach food: Sand is bought and added to city beaches. In order to maintain the current width of the beach and to protect it against erosion, new sand must be purchased regularly.
- Nature-based solutions: Nature-based solutions use natural coastal protection methods to protect coastal areas from sea level rise, coastal flooding and erosion. Examples include living coastlines, habitat restoration, native plantings and dune restoration, which provide many additional benefits such as providing habitat or carbon sequestration.
- seawall: Sea walls are hard, vertical structures, usually made of concrete, designed to protect against sea level rise. Sea walls can lead to long-term beach erosion.
- Land Use Change: Land use change may include the shift to less intensive land use in areas vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding, such as converting urban properties into green space.
Strategies for extreme rainfall and drought include:
- reactive maintenance: When an extreme weather event is expected, city crews clean storm drains and culverts, distribute sandbags, close roads, increase maintenance staff and signage where necessary.
- Increase routes: The road surface is raised to a higher level in areas that routinely flood during extreme weather conditions to maintain road access.
- Green infrastructure: Green infrastructure reduces flooding and runoff by collecting and filtering rain. Examples are street trees, curbs, wadis and water-permeable surfaces.
- Relocation infrastructure: City resources are being relocated to alternative areas less exposed to climate hazards.
- Community involvement: Community involvement includes education on drought-tolerant landscaping, incentives and guidance on green infrastructure or stormwater harvesting, and flood response.
Extreme heat strategies include:
- Cool Zones: Cooling zones are community buildings that provide an air-conditioned space that the public can access during extreme heat.
- Shadow structure: Shade structures include the installation of shade sails, canopies or other features that provide additional shade to public areas and help cool the environment.
- Tree Canopy Cover: Tree canopy is the covering of the leaves and branches of trees that provides shade and cooling to the environment, which also helps to purify the air and absorb rainwater.
- Green roof: Green roofs turn existing roofs into roofs covered with living plants. Green roofs can absorb sunlight and heat and lower the ambient temperature by several degrees, while also providing other aesthetic and environmental benefits.
- Cool roofs: Cool roofs transform existing roofs into roofs made of light-colored materials that reflect sunlight and heat back into the atmosphere. Cool roofs can keep the ambient temperature much cooler than traditional roofs.
Wildfire adaptation strategies include:
- Public Outreach Campaigns: Public outreach campaigns provide information to communities on wildfire prevention and response. Outreach can help reduce wildfires and prepare communities to evacuate quickly if necessary.
- Land Use Planning: Smart spatial planning can help reduce the risk of wildfires and increase community resilience. Land use planning may include landscaping regulations, building codes for fire-resistant structures, development restrictions in areas of high wildfire risk, or design standards for enhanced safety, such as secondary access.
- Hardening of buildings/assets: Buildings are upgraded or designed with fire-resistant materials or fitted with fire-resistant barriers to hinder the spread of fires and to protect the building.
- Treatments after fire: Post-fire treatments may include seeding or mulching. These treatments can reduce runoff and erosion and improve ecosystem health.
- Vegetation management: Vegetation management reduces the amount of vegetation growing in areas at high risk of wildfires through actions such as invasive scrub removal, tree maintenance and removal projects, and controlled burns. When repeated regularly, such maintenance can make fires easier to control or extinguish.