Lester, C.; Griggs, G.; Patsch, K., and Anderson, R., . Shoreline retreat in California: Taking a step back.
Adapting to long-term sea-level rise has emerged as perhaps the most significant coastal management challenge of the 21st century. But this challenge has become fraught with controversy in California, especially around the idea of managed retreat. This article reframes the current adversarial and highly politicized dichotomous controversy about managed retreat with an overview of California's actual experience managing coastal shoreline hazards over the last half-century. The review shows that managed retreat in California is more than an either-or fight about private beachfront residential property. The article reviews a range of cases in which development or development potential has been moved back from the shoreline. The cases stand in contrast to the overly simplified debate about managed retreat and show that retreat has been happening on California's coast for decades. The discussion identifies the complexity and multiple dimensions of shoreline adaptation over long periods and concludes with some observations in hopes of shedding light on and opening more reasonable discussion of pathways to shoreline retreat and resilient communities.