Daily Journal Quotes Manatt Partner on Rising Sea Levels' Impact on Property Law

Daily Journal Quotes Manatt Partner on Rising Sea Levels' Impact on Property Law

"Rising Sea Levels Test Limits of Property Law, Land Use Policy"
Daily Journal

April 22, 2013 - The Daily Journal interviewed Manatt's Susan Hori, a partner in the firm's Real Estate & Land Use Practice, on the legal impacts of rising sea levels in California.

As reported by the Daily Journal, scientists predict that sea levels along California's coast will rise 5 feet by 2100, putting property at risk of being permanently inundated or under constant threat of floods. It also raises a number of legal issues concerning private property rights, protection of natural resources, public beach access and local land use policy. With regard to seawalls, properties built before the 1976 Coastal Act have the right to build the walls, but properties built after the law was placed can be barred from erecting barriers for protection. Seawalls on one property can cause further erosion on adjacent properties.

Another conflict is where private property ends and public property starts. Under the public trust doctrine, the public owns all land up the so-called mean high tide line, or wet sand. It's unclear what will happen as that line pushes inland and onto private property. Under the doctrine, the state must protect nature along the coast.

In addition, Hori has been involved in a case where sea level rise has sparked a dispute over a proposed development located a mile and a half inland.

"Right now we're almost looking at it on a case-by-case basis . . . and there isn't a uniform approach or a uniform policy," said Hori. "Some local agencies will say you can build seawalls, and other regulatory agencies are opposed. I think there's a need for more guidance."



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