Can Sand Dunes Save Hundreds of Homes in a California Town from Sea Level Rise Flooding?

Communities all along the U.S. coastline are scrambling to find ways to save coastal real estate from sea level rise flooding. Stinson Beach in California is now considering sand dunes as a way to keep rising seas from damaging or destroying over half of the town’s 775 homes by 2030.

An article published in the San Francisco Chronicle explains that Stinson Beach is already vulnerable to ocean flooding and has lost homes to the ocean during severe storms in the past. Sea level rise is making it likely even more homes will be lost in the near future, especially if nothing is done to hold back ever higher tides.

Marin County is exploring the possibility of building ecologically-correct sand dunes to protect the structures. County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni told the Chronicle that investing time and money in the dunes might be worth it, even if they provide only a temporary reprieve.

A study released in 2016 predicted that Stinson Beach would lose its beach by 2050. By the end of the century, up to 600 homes worth $1.5 billion would be flood-ravaged beyond repair. Marin County estimates that sand dune construction will cost up to $55 million, while more-permanent, less ecologically-friendly solutions, like seawalls, will cost up to $155 million to build.

Stinson Beach isn’t the only California coastal community facing this dire future. The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that up to $10 billion worth of California real estate will be claimed by the sea by 2050.

Stinson Beach’s situation is a powerful reminder that real estate buyers and owners need to stay up to speed on the level of threat sea level rise flooding poses to their communities so they can make informed decisions regarding property that may only be viable for a few decades before its claimed by the sea.

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