Living with the Changing California Coast

Living with the Changing California Coast

GARY GRIGGS
KIKI PATSCH
LAURET SAVOY
Reinhard Flick
Kim Fulton-Bennett
Karen Grove
Cheryl Hapke
Kenneth R. Lajoie
Charles F. Lester
Scott Mathieson
Dorothy Merritts
Robert M. Norris
Antony R. Orme
Bernard Pipkin
Derek Rust
Douglas Sherman
Robert Walker
Jerry Weber
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Pages: 551
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pppdw
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  • Book Info
    Living with the Changing California Coast
    Book Description:

    Crowded into the beautiful, narrow strip at the edge of the ocean, the large number of people who live near California's dynamic coastline often have little awareness of the hazards-waves, tides, wind, storms, rain, and runoff-that erode and impact the coast and claim property on a regular basis. This up-to-date, authoritative, and easy-to-use book, a geological profile of the California coast from Mexico to the Oregon border, describes the landforms and processes that shape the coastline and beaches, documents how erosion has affected development, and discusses the options that are available for dealing with coastal hazards and geologic instability. A completely revised and updated edition ofLiving with the California Coast(1985), this book features hundreds of new photographs and the latest data on human activity on the coast, on climate change, on rising seas levels, and on coastal erosion and protection. With its dramatic photographs and mile-by-mile maps,Living with the Changing California Coastwill be an essential resource for those intending to buy or build along the coast, those who need specific information about various coastal regions, and those who are seeking information about how this remarkable coastline has evolved.*279 photographs portray natural coastal features and processes and illustrate many instances of what can happen to buildings on the coast *81 maps, covering the entire coast, detail types of coastal landforms, coastline erosion rates, locations of seawalls or armor, and other specific areas of interest *Offers specific advice for homebuyers,residents, and developers on which areas to avoid, on what safety measures should be taken, and on what danger signals should be heeded

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93867-0
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. PREFACE: LIVING ON THE EDGE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION: A Perspective on the Coast of California
    (pp. 1-7)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIKI PATSCH and LAURET SAVOY

    California’s nearly 1,100 miles of shoreline have something to offer almost everybody: beaches to escape the heat of the city on a summer day; fertile near-shore waters that support an extensive, but threatened, sport and commercial fishing industry; private coastal property, a place to build a home for recreation or retirement; and some wild and isolated places where one can still find solitude and peace of mind. These are but a few of the shoreline’s benefits. The magnetic attraction of California’s shoreline is clearly seen in a single statistic: 80 percent of the state’s 35 million people now live within...

  5. CHAPTER TWO THE EVOLUTION OF THE CALIFORNIA COAST
    (pp. 8-17)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIKI PATSCH and LAURET SAVOY

    The coastline of California means different things to different people depending on one’s regional perspective and personal observations. To a surfer in Huntington Beach, the coast is a wide, sandy beach with a perfect wave on an uncrowded sunny afternoon. To a family from San Jose trying to escape the heat of the valley on a summer day, the coast is the boardwalk at Santa Cruz, with a wide, safe beach and gentle waves. For a retired couple living on the wild Mendocino coast, a foggy winter walk on a rocky stretch of coastline backed by steep, redwood-covered mountains is...

  6. CHAPTER THREE WEATHER, CLIMATE CHANGE, SEA LEVEL, AND THE COASTLINE
    (pp. 18-37)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIKI PATSCH and LAURET SAVOY

    California’s climate varies widely with latitude along its nearly 1,100 miles of north-to-south–trending coastline. San Diego, at one extreme, is essentially a desert that receives only about 10 inches of rainfall annually and, before development and the importation of water, was characterized by an arid landscape with only sparse vegetation. At the other extreme, Eureka lies in the heavily redwood-forested northern Coast Ranges, where rainfall often exceeds 50 inches per year. The storms bringing the rainfall are often the same storms bringing the waves that break on the shoreline; they are strongly seasonal, with the highest rainfall and the...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR UNDERSTANDING THE SHORELINE
    (pp. 38-74)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIKI PATSCH and LAURET SAVOY

    California has one of the most spectacular and diverse coastlines in the country—one of high mountains plummeting to sheer, rocky cliffs; long stretches of sandy beach; and extensive marshes and wetlands. It is a state that in many ways is defined by its coast. It is little wonder that such an environment continues to draw people to the shore. Yet the shoreline is also the battleground between land and sea, a line that is constantly changing as sea level rises and falls in response to global climate change. As people continue to move to coastal communities in California, the...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE THE EROSION OF THE COASTLINE
    (pp. 75-87)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIKI PATSCH and LAURET SAVOY

    If you have ever watched storm waves batter the coastline in the winter months, you appreciate the tremendous power exerted by the ocean. Even during calm weather, small waves constantly wash the sand and gravel across the rocky intertidal zone—wetting, drying, and gradually weakening the rocks that make up the cliff and carrying off the bits and pieces that break loose. Although this day-to-day activity takes its toll on the cliffs, it is generally the winter storm waves at times of high tides that lead to most cliff retreat. In part, this is because the winter waves are larger...

  9. CHAPTER SIX BUILDING OR BUYING ON THE COAST
    (pp. 88-106)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIKI PATSCH and LAURET SAVOY

    Anyone who has ever stood on the edge of a coastal bluff during a winter storm doesn’t need to be convinced that the coastline is a dynamic environment. Unfortunately, however, most coastal properties and homes are bought and sold during the warm, calm days of summer, when there are no obvious threats to these parcels. Coastal change occurs both over short time intervals (for example, the impact from a single storm or winter) and over longer intervals (for example, the progressive erosion of an unstable bluff area over years or decades). Both types of change can affect an individual property...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN RESPONDING TO COASTAL HAZARDS
    (pp. 107-137)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIKI PATSCH and LAURET SAVOY

    Once a home or other structure has been built in a location that is prone to wave damage or coastal flooding, several options exist. One is simply to take your chances—do nothing and hope that while you own the property nothing happens. Depending on the particular location, elevation, setback from the shoreline, and the storm and El Niño climate, this may work for a while. The cost is nothing until a major storm finally occurs with a very high tide, and then either a rapid emergency response is required or everything may be lost or seriously damaged in a...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT AN OVERVIEW OF CALIFORNIA’S COASTAL HAZARDS POLICY
    (pp. 138-162)
    CHARLES F. LESTER

    The California Coastal Act is California’s primary coastal hazards law. This law establishes two key policies for shoreline development. First, it requires thatnewdevelopment avoid coastal hazards if possible. Second, it specifically allows shoreline protection structures, such as seawalls and rock revetments, to be built forexistingdevelopment that is threatened by coastal erosion, but only if there is no other reasonable way to protect the development. These policies reflect a basic objective to minimize the construction of shoreline protection structures because of their negative impacts on the coastal environment, which include blocking public access to the beach, loss...

  12. CHAPTER NINE THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST: The Oregon Border to Shelter Cove
    (pp. 163-191)
    LAURET SAVOY, DOROTHY MERRITTS, GARY GRIGGS and DEREK RUST

    Heavy winter rains, steep coastal cliffs, and forests of redwood and Douglas fir distinguish California’s northwestern edge, the traditional homeland of the Tolowa, Yurok, Chilula, Wiyot, and Mattole tribal peoples.

    The earliest European explorers sailed the north coast waters in search of new land and navigable harbors during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Spain showed the greatest interest in exploring the northwest coast of the New World, and the Cabrillo-Ferrelo voyage of 1542–43 is generally considered the first attempt to reach the coastline of Alta California (Upper California). Many historians believe that members of this voyage sighted and named...

  13. CHAPTER TEN POINT DELGADA TO POINT ARENA
    (pp. 192-203)
    DOROTHY MERRITTS, LAURET SAVOY, GARY GRIGGS and ROBERT WALKER

    In contrast to the 5 miles of Black Sand Beach along the Lost Coast to the north of Point Delgada and Shelter Cove, the next 27 miles of coast to the south is one of the most inaccessible and rugged stretches of coastline in the state (Figure 10.1). Cliffs that form the coast are very steep and unstable, and existing beaches are narrow and usually rocky. Several parts of the coast are inaccessible at high tide, including the notorious Dead Man’s Pass, just south of Shelter Cove, and Point No Pass, a mile farther to the south. The northern segment...

  14. CHAPTER ELEVEN POINT ARENA TO SAN FRANCISCO
    (pp. 204-221)
    LAURET SAVOY, DOROTHY MERRITTS, KAREN GROVE and ROBERT WALKER

    The coast between Point Arena and San Francisco is the traditional home of many Native peoples, such as the Pomo and Miwok. In 1579, almost 40 years after the Cabrillo-Ferrelo voyage along the then-uncharted coast, the English pirate Francis Drake sailed along coastal northern California, his ship filled with booty seized in raids on Spanish ports and vessels along the west coast of the southern Americas. Drake stopped to make repairs in a convenient bay, which many historians believe is the bay named for him that lies in the lee of Point Reyes. In 1595 Sebastian Cermeno reached the coast...

  15. CHAPTER TWELVE THE SAN FRANCISCO COASTLINE
    (pp. 222-227)
    GARY GRIGGS, KIM FULTON-BENNETT and LAURET SAVOY

    San Francisco Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf, rather than the city’s ocean coastline, typically come to mind when one thinks of the San Francisco waterfront. The exposed Pacific coastline extends for 8 miles from Golden Gate Bridge to the San Mateo County line. Steep, frequently crumbling cliffs fronted by narrow beaches characterize the shore between the Golden Gate and Seal Rocks. Most of this area is federal or state property (military and park facilities), with the only private development occurring along a short stretch of coast where expensive homes line the edge of the cliffs above Bakers and Phelan state beaches....

  16. CHAPTER THIRTEEN SAN FRANCISCO TO AÑO NUEVO
    (pp. 228-269)
    GARY GRIGGS, JERRY WEBER, KENNETH R. LAJOIE and SCOTT MATHIESON

    The Pacific coastline of San Mateo County extends about 56 miles from the city and county of San Francisco on the north to Santa Cruz County on the south. In general, the northern part is a continuation of the urbanized San Francisco coastline, whereas the southern section is rural and agricultural. This roughly north–south-trending rocky coastline consists of nine distinct segments that reflect local variations in coastal processes and geological conditions, primarily topography and rock type. The distinctive character of each coastal segment generally reflects the local balance between erosional processes and the resistance of cliffs or bluffs to...

  17. CHAPTER FOURTEEN AÑO NUEVO TO THE MONTEREY PENINSULA
    (pp. 270-310)
    GARY GRIGGS and KIKI PATSCH

    The first inhabitants of the central California coast arrived well over 10,000 years ago. Archeological evidence, including radiocarbon dating, suggests that the initial inhabitants were hunters; however, about 7,500 years ago a strong dependence on shoreline resources and seed gathering developed. Ancient kitchen middens (shell mounds), which clearly record both dietary and waste disposal practices of the original inhabitants, are widespread from Año Nuevo south to Santa Cruz, in the mid-bay region, and on the Monterey Peninsula. In addition to access to a rich intertidal area for food, the Native peoples sought two of the things we still search for...

  18. CHAPTER FIFTEEN THE MONTEREY PENINSULA TO MORRO BAY
    (pp. 311-333)
    CHERYL HAPKE

    The central coast of California from the Monterey Peninsula south to Morro Bay includes some of the most spectacular coastline in the United States. Along much of this section of the coast, the Santa Lucia Mountains, part of the Coast Ranges geomorphic province, rise steeply from the waters of the Pacific Ocean to elevations of nearly 1 mile within an inland distance of just 3 miles (Figure 15.1). The geology varies dramatically along the coast as different types of rocks are juxtaposed along numerous faults and shear zones associated with the San Andreas Fault. Because of the variable geology, the...

  19. CHAPTER SIXTEEN MORRO BAY TO POINT CONCEPTION
    (pp. 334-358)
    ANTONY R. ORME

    The south-central California coast extends 100 miles from Point Estero to Point Conception, covering the coastal portions of southern San Luis Obispo County and western Santa Barbara County. In general terms, the coast consists of six natural units: (1) the 20-mile-long, west-facing coast of Estero Bay, dominated by Morro Rock and the barrier beach enclosing Morro Bay; (2) the 13-mile-long, southwest-facing coast fronting the San Luis Range; (3) the 15-mile-long, west-facing coast of the Santa Maria Valley fronting San Luis Obispo Bay; (4) the 8-mile-long, mostly southwest-facing coast of the Point Sal Ridge; (5) the 18-mile-long, west-facing, embayed coast of...

  20. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN POINT CONCEPTION TO RINCON POINT
    (pp. 359-393)
    ROBERT M. NORRIS and KIKI PATSCH

    Point Conception (Figure 17.1) marks a dramatic change in the orientation of California’s coastline—from north–south to nearly east–west. Most of the shoreline from Point Conception to Gaviota State Beach is contained in the Hollister and Bixby ranches, which originated as Mexican land grants during the early nineteenth century. Hollister Ranch was sold in the early 1970s, and approximately 2 square miles were separated as the proposed site for a nuclear power plant, which was never built. The same site was subsequently proposed for a liquefied natural gas facility, which also met with opposition and was never approved....

  21. CHAPTER EIGHTEEN RINCON POINT TO SANTA MONICA
    (pp. 394-426)
    ANTONY R. ORME

    The 72-mile-long, south-facing coast of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, between Rincon Point and Santa Monica, contains a wealth of interest for the scientist and a host of problems for coastal management. This coast extends obliquely for 35 miles across the seaward edge of the Ventura Basin, comprising 13 miles along the hilly Rincon coast and an additional 22 miles across the low-lying Oxnard Plain to Point Mugu. From there the Malibu coast extends 33 miles along the south front of the Santa Monica Mountains before turning south for 4 miles across the western Los Angeles Basin to Santa Monica...

  22. CHAPTER NINETEEN THE COAST OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Santa Monica to Dana Point
    (pp. 427-473)
    DOUGLAS SHERMAN and BERNARD PIPKIN

    The 71 miles of mainland coast between Santa Monica and Dana Point can be divided into four main segments: (1) the Santa Monica Littoral Cell, (2) the Palos Verdes Peninsula, (3) the San Pedro Littoral Cell, and (4) the Laguna Beach Mini Cells (Figure 19.1). Large-scale geological processes control the general forms of the four segments. The Santa Monica and San Pedro littoral cells are long, sandy beach systems that formed as part of the depositional processes that filled the Los Angeles Basin following crustal downwarping. The Palos Verdes Peninsula and the Laguna Beach mini-cells are cliffed coasts caused by...

  23. CHAPTER TWENTY DANA POINT TO THE INTERNATIONAL BORDER
    (pp. 474-514)
    REINHARD FLICK

    The coast and beaches are the San Diego region’s most important natural assets. When we think of the region’s positive image, we most often think of the climate and the shoreline. Beaches are by far San Diego’s largest attraction, and we depend on the sand beaches to buffer homes, businesses, and public improvements from impact and inundation by ocean waves.

    Most of the San Diego shoreline consists of narrow beaches backed by steep seacliffs. The beaches and cliffs have for thousands of years been subject to erosion from waves abetted by a rising sea level. During the stormy period of...

  24. APPENDIX A: USEFUL REFERENCES
    (pp. 515-524)
  25. APPENDIX B: GEOLOGICAL TIME LINE
    (pp. 525-526)
  26. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 527-532)
  27. INDEX
    (pp. 533-540)