Local News

Santa Cruz Suffers from Climate Change

By Megan Hastings

Media Production Editor

For decades, engineers in the city of Santa Cruz have fought an ongoing battle with the ocean’s swell to save the city’s beloved path West Cliff Drive from falling into the sea. Unfortunately, their efforts have been to no avail as the latest collapse happened on Nov. 25 when a portion of the cliffside and sidewalk between Woodrow Avenue and Columbia Street was dislodged by a powerful ocean swell. 

A few days before, Santa Cruz’s roads experienced another swell from the ocean, which made it easier for the path to erode. Santa Cruz Senior Civil Engineer Joshua Spangrud explained, “the waves were large enough to come over the rock shelf and impact the face of the bluff directly, without any protection, and it just eroded into the path.” The swell took a 20-foot long, four-foot deep chunk out of the sidewalk. City workers acted quickly, setting up temporary barricades to keep both residents and visitors safe, leading pedestrians to walk in the street. The city has not given an estimate for how long repair work will take, but it confirmed the repairs will be made by the West Cliff Revetment Project. 

As climate change becomes more of a widespread issue, sea levels continue to rise and Santa Cruz continues to suffer as a result. A report published in 2020 by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey outlined the possible sea level rise of up to two feet, and that will be detrimental to Santa Cruz. The city plans to embark on a 20-million-dollar development plan to shore up West Cliff Drive. While some mitigations in other areas along the costs seem too expensive, UC Santa Cruz Professor Gary Griggs pointed to the massive sea wall near Ocean Beach in San Francisco that was built in 1928 and is still holding up nearly 100 years later. The future of Santa Cruz and its beloved roads continue to be ambiguous as the city continues its battle with climate change.

Categories: Local News, Web Exclusive

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