Climate change and rising sea levels are probably never going to submerge LA under 80 feet of water (at least not in the next few hundred years), but how prepared are LA's beach communities (Pacific Palisades from Malibu to Santa Monica, Venice/Playa Del Rey, San Pedro, Wilmington, and the Port of LA) to deal with a rise of say, two feet? The city tasked USC's SeaGrant program with finding out how ready the coast is to handle higher sea levels (estimated at anywhere from 0.3 to two feet from 2000 to 2050), particularly coupled with extreme weather (like 2010's El Niño storm), hoping to identify gaps in storm/flood/rising sea level preparedness. Good news: The final report (pdf) says that the Port of LA and energy facilities along the coast aren't considered in danger. (The Port is one of the agencies named in the report as having been at work since 2011 to get ready for rising sea levels.) Bad news: Roads, water utilities, and some beach neighborhoods are at risk. Pacific Coast Highway was called "the the most vulnerable part of the entire City shoreline." Venice, San Pedro, and Wilmington were cited in the report as having a "reduced capacity to adapt to the impacts of sea level rise" compared to neighboring areas, because all three have a high percentage of renters in older housing structures, posing challenges for first-responders.
San Pedro and Wilmington are also more at risk because their populations are lower-income, non-native English speaking, and have lower education levels, all of which the report said present challenges to spreading the information about preparing for these kinds of emergencies. The report made recommendations to help residents and the city strengthen their abilities to adapt to rising sea levels, but, as the associate director of SeaGrant told KPCC, the biggest obstacles to getting beach neighborhoods prepared are man-made: budget cuts (always) and jurisdictional issues (beaches are controlled by the county, but affect the city).
· Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Study for the City of Los Angeles (pdf) [USC]
· USC Report Concludes LA Risks Much from Climate-Related Sea Level Rise [SCPR]