When a collection of atmospheric rivers battered California over the winter, the Santa Cruz area was hit particularly hard.

Twenty-foot waves crashing ashore induced a few of the most gorgeous harm in January 2023, dragging components of West Cliff Drive, a significant coastal hall in Santa Cruz, into the ocean.

“What we thought would take 30 years to occur with local weather change took two units of storms in ’22 and ’23,” Laura Schmidt, Santa Cruz assistant metropolis supervisor, mentioned at a Metropolis Council assembly this month.

The harm to West Cliff Drive gave much more urgency to a query that each neighborhood alongside California’s 840-mile shoreline will finally must grapple with: How can we adapt to rising sea ranges and more and more violent storms?

This month, Santa Cruz, which is about 75 miles south of San Francisco and residential to 62,000 folks, shared the beginnings of a plan with the general public.

West Cliff Drive is a cherished 2.7-mile stretch of the town’s oceanfront, and it serves as a city sq. as a lot as a street. On any given day, native folks could be discovered biking, strolling and bird-watching on the cliff-hugging promenade overlooking attractive Monterey Bay.

However erosion stole one to 4 inches’ price of the cliff a 12 months from 1956 and 2018, and the speed is accelerating: One other 5 to 25 toes might be misplaced by 2075. In different phrases, there finally gained’t be sufficient room for the 2 site visitors lanes and the adjoining walkway.

And the winter storms had been a harsh reminder of that actuality, inflicting thousands and thousands of {dollars} in harm to West Cliff Drive. Some components had been hit so badly that they’re nonetheless closed to car site visitors.

At a Metropolis Council assembly this month, Mayor Fred Keely of Santa Cruz likened attempting to save lots of West Cliff Drive to altering a tire whereas the automotive remains to be shifting: “We’re going to attempt to repair the flat tire of West Cliff with out stopping the Pacific Ocean first — and, nicely, that’s going to be troublesome to do.”

On the assembly, the Council adopted a 50-year plan for West Cliff Drive that requires giving precedence to bicycle and pedestrian entry, whereas chopping the roadway down to 1 lane. However truly shifting ahead with components of the plan proved to be sophisticated.

Metropolis officers beneficial that the Council apply for a state grant to review turning the drive right into a one-way street. However within the public remark portion of the assembly, residents spoke for hours, elevating issues about limiting car entry to the drive and about whether or not making it one-way would trigger site visitors jams elsewhere. The Metropolis Council determined to carry off on the grant software, and it was unclear when the subsequent steps is perhaps taken.

Gary Griggs, a professor of earth sciences who has taught on the College of California, Santa Cruz, for the reason that Sixties, mentioned that the dialog round West Cliff Drive mirrored the realities of “dwelling on the California coast and having developed proper as much as the sting.”

“Everyone thought they’d extra time,” Griggs informed me. “I believe the troublesome half is now, what can we do.”


What kids’s books ought to we add to our California reading list? E mail me at CAtoday@nytimes.com together with your suggestions. Please embrace your full identify and the town through which you reside.

Emily Keddie, a mountain runner from Oregon, set a document for the quickest recognized time on certainly one of Northern California’s most well-known mountain climbing trails, the northern part of the Misplaced Coast Path. The section is a 25-mile trek by way of stunning surroundings that many hikers put aside three days and two nights to finish. The San Francisco Chronicle studies that Keddie covered the distance in just under five and a half hours.

Keddie informed The Chronicle that she additionally picked up a nasty case of poison oak alongside the way in which, and encountered a big mountain lion in a second she referred to as “terrifying.”




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