Our Climate Our Future - Climate Resilient San Diego

The City of San Diego is developing Climate Resilient SD, a comprehensive climate adaptation and resiliency plan, to ensure San Diego’s residents will continue to thrive in a changing climate. The plan will focus on the four primary climate change-related hazards that are projected to impact the City and intensify over time: sea level rise, extreme rainfall and drought, extreme heat and wildfires.

Climate Resilient SD will include a suite of climate adaptation strategies, focused on minimizing risk and increasing the resilience of San Diego’s people, assets, economy and natural resources.

Examples of different strategies that can address each climate hazard are shown below. Each strategy has varying costs, effectiveness levels, and pros and cons. We invite you to review the information and answer the questions that follow to help us understand which strategies you most support on our path to planning a resilient and thriving San Diego.

Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies

Climate change is accelerating sea level rise. By 2100, sea levels could rise by 3.6 to 10.2 feet. This will mean more flooding along the coast and faster rates of coastal erosion. 

Rising Sea Level

Potential Strategies

Regulation Options: Updating development regulations, zoning, permitting processes and standards to reduce exposure of development to climate changes hazards and improve ability to respond to climate change hazards.

Beach Nourishment

Beach Nourishment: Sand is purchased and added to City beaches. New sand must be purchased on a regular basis to maintain the current width of the beach and to protect against erosion.

Nature Based Solutions

Nature-Based Solutions: Nature-based solutions use natural shoreline protection methods to protect coastal areas from sea level rise, coastal flooding and erosion. Examples include living shorelines, habitat restoration, native plantings and dune restoration, which provide many additional benefits such as providing habitat or carbon sequestration.

Sea Wall

Sea Wall: Sea walls are hard, vertical structures, typically made of concrete, that are designed to protect against sea level rise. Sea walls can result in long-term beach erosion.

Land Use Change

Land Use Change: Land use change could include the shift to less intensive land uses in areas vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding, such as converting City-owned properties into green space.

Strategy Cost Effectiveness Pros Cons
Regulation Options 

Low for City to implement

Can be tailored to be long-term and site-specific

Protect and prepare new development; minimize future damage

Potential short-term increased cost to development

Beach Nourishment 

Medium (continual additional cost for future nourishments)

Effective short term

Maintains beach access

New sand needed every few years

Big storms can wash away new sand

Nature Based Solutions 

Low and eligible for grant funding

Helps mitigate flooding and reduce wave energy

Offset carbon emissions

Improve water quality

Protect habitat

Less land available to develop

Sea Wall


Effective long-term solution for height the sea wall is designed

Protects property behind sea wall


Erodes beach

Does not reduce wave energy

Land Use Change

Low to high cost

Regulations can be tailored to be long-term and site-specific

Protect habitat

Maintain beaches

Additional green space for recreation

Land acquisition can be expensive if easements not obtained

Extreme Rainfall and Drought Strategies

More extreme variation in the amount of rainfall is expected, resulting in more intense changes between periods of droughts and extreme flooding.



Reactive Maintenance: When an extreme weather event is expected, City crews clean storm drains and culverts, distribute sand bags, close roadways, increase maintenance staff and signage as needed.

Two Lane Highway

Raise Roadways: The road surface level is raised to a higher elevation in areas that routinely flood during extreme weather events to maintain access to the road.


Green Infrastructure: Green infrastructure reduces flooding and runoff by capturing and filtering rain. Examples are street trees, curb cuts, bioswales and permeable surfaces.

Infrastructure relocation

Infrastructure Relocation: City assets are moved to alternate areas that are less exposed to climate hazards.

Community Engagement

Community Engagement: Community engagement includes informational outreach on drought tolerant landscaping, incentives and guidance on green infrastructure or rain water capture, and flood response.

Strategy Cost Effectiveness Pros Cons
Reactive Maintenance  Low cost

Effective short-term for low levels of flooding

Protects public health and safety

Lower short-term cost



Short-term only

Continual operational impact

Raise Roadways 

High cost

Maintains access and reduces flooding up to designed height of road 

Protects public health and safety 


Potential impacts to water runoff patterns 

Green Infrastructure Medium

Reduces flooding at site and runoff to water bodies 

Community greening 

Improve water quality 

Capture and reuse of water 

Heat mitigation 

Not as effective for extreme flood scenarios 

Infrastructure Relocation Costs vary: can include moving asset, cost of new land or new construction  Relocation moves asset out of harm’s way 

Critical city services maintained

Public health and safety

Potential for additional green spaces/habitat restoration 


Community Engagement Low Helps reduce peak flows and/or increase participation in water conservation actions

Improve water quality

Water conservation

Community action


Extreme Heat Strategies

Climate change projections for San Diego mean more frequent heat waves, warmer nights and the hottest days getting hotter. Extreme heat poses a health risk to San Diegans. 

Potential Strategies

Cool Zone

Cool Zones: Cool zones are community buildings that provide an air-conditioned space that the public can access during extreme heat events.

Shade structure

Shade structure: Shade structures include the installation of shade sails, canopies or other features that provide additional shade cover to public spaces and help cool the surrounding area.

Tree Canopy

Tree Canopy Cover: Tree canopy cover is the coverage of trees’ leaves and branches that provides shade and cooling to the surrounding area, which also helps clean the air and absorb rainwater runoff.

Green roof

Green Roof: Green roofs convert existing rooftops into roofs covered with live plants. Green roofs can absorb sunlight and heat and reduce ambient temperatures by several degrees, while also providing other aesthetic and environmental benefits.

Cool roof

Cool Roofs: Cool roofs transform existing rooftops to roofs made of light-colored materials that reflect sunlight and heat back into the atmosphere. Cool roofs can keep ambient temperatures much cooler than traditional roofs.

Strategy Cost Effectiveness Pros Cons
Cool Zones

Low cost

Can utilize existing buildings as designated cool zones.

Provides relief from extreme heat events

Address public health need

Need to ensure residents are able to access cool zones

High energy use

Shade Structure

Low: as addition to existing play structure, park, or public space

Medium level of cooling effect beneath structure

Expand areas for outdoor activities on hot days

Tree Canopy Cover


Economic benefit (trees increase in value over time)

Increase in tree canopy has strong cooling effect

Offset carbon emissions

Energy savings

Improve water quality

Improve air quality

Requires regular short-term maintenance
Green Roof

Medium upfront cost

Provide cost savings over time

Strong cooling effect

Energy savings

Improve water quality

Improve air quality


Cool Roof


Cost comparable to conventional roof

Can reduce peak electricity demand

Energy savings


Wildfire Adaptation Strategies

Climate change will result in high temperatures, dry conditions and flammable vegetation, which will increase the risk of wildfire. Wildfires pose a risk to public health and safety.

Potential Strategies

Wildfire Public Outreach

Public Outreach Campaigns: Public outreach campaigns provide information to communities on wildfire prevention and response. Outreach can help reduce the ignition of wildfires and prepare communities to evacuate quickly if needed.

Wildfire Land Use Planning

Land Use Planning: Smart land use planning can help reduce the risk of wildfires and increase community resilience. Land use planning can include: landscaping regulations, building codes for fire-safe structures, development restrictions in high wildfire risk areas or design standards for better safety, such as secondary access.


Hardening of Buildings/Assets: Buildings are upgraded or designed with fire-resistant materials or include fire-resistant barriers around them to make it more difficult for fires to spread and to protect the building.

Post fire treatment

Post-Fire Treatments: Post-fire treatments can include seeding or mulching. These treatments can reduce runoff and erosion and improve ecosystem health.

Vegetation Management

Vegetation Management: Vegetation management reduces the amount of vegetation growing in high wildfire risk areas through actions like invasive brush removal, tree maintenance and removal projects, and controlled burns. When repeated on a regular basis, such maintenance can make fires easier to manage or suppress.

Strategy Cost Effectiveness Pros Cons
Public Outreach Campaigns


Outreach to homeowners reduces unintentional ignitions

Public health and safety

Avoided costs and losses


Land Use Planning


Helps reduce intensity and extent of fire

Reduces exposure

Public health and safety

Avoided costs and losses

Hardening of Buildings/Assets

Low (when occurring with building construction)

Helps prevent spread of fires and protects buildings

Public health and safety

Avoided costs and losses

Expensive if completed for retrofit of existing building
Post-Fire Treatments


Reduce post-fire runoff and erosion

Public health and safety

Avoided costs and losses

Not fire preventive, only recovery

Vegetation Management

Low cost for mechanical or by hand removal

Prescribed burns provide returns

Makes fires easier to manage or suppress

Requires continuous action

Public health and safety

Avoided costs and losses

Protect environment


The survey is closed.