Communities have many plans that help them manage their community’s assets and resources. With deliberate planning and coordination, many of these plans can be leveraged to supplement and enhance each other and can equally help the community achieve its climate mitigation and adaptation goals. The Adaptation Clearinghouse provides resources that support the alignment of multiple planning efforts and documents, including the Coastal Plan Alignment Compass and other resources available below.

The Coastal Plan Alignment Compass was developed through a multi-agency partnership comprised of NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, USGS, FEMA, California Coastal Commission, the Ocean Protection Council, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the State Coastal Conservancy. The Compass focuses on California coastal communities, which are responsible for developing a suite of local plans that include local coastal programs, local hazard mitigation plans and general plans. Traditionally, these planning efforts are addressed independently by multiple local sectors and stakeholders. Taken in concert with climate action and adaptation plans, there are many potential benefits of aligning these planning efforts, including achieving multiple objectives, reducing duplication of effort, and lowering potential for policy conflicts.

The Coastal Plan Alignment Compass provides an overview of the required elements and best practices for each plan, discusses how to leverage vulnerability assessments to help make them usable and applicable to all plans, and identifies crosswalk opportunities and tricky spots to avoid.  It also illustrates tools and state guidance documents that support the incorporation of hazards into planning.

The Coastal Plan Alignment Compass assists local governments to make the case for alignment and begin to coordinate plans. This helps increase political acceptance of adaptation objectives, streamline public outreach and engagement, and open up opportunities for leveraged funding to begin implementation of adaptation actions.

To receive a hard copy version of the Compass, please contact Becky Lunde (NOAA, or Juliette Finzi Hart (USGS, 

OPR is partnering with USGS and NOAA to build an interactive, online version of the tool, which will be available on the Adaptation Clearinghouse in late 2018.

Coastal Plan Alignment Compass Partners

All Resources for Plan Alignment

Adapting to Sea Level Rise - A Guide for California's Coastal Communities

California Energy Commission. 2012
Flooding Sea level rise
Planning and policy guidance
The California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program supports public interest research, development, and demonstration projects to benefit California. This report is one of many products from this program. Specifically, this work resulted in a guide to help planners in California’s coastal governments to better develop sea level rise adaptation plans for their communities. It lays out the steps needed to analyze conditions, select actions and track progress.

California Coastal Act

California Coastal Commission. 2017
Extreme storms Ocean acidification Sea level rise Snowpack Temperature
Planning and policy guidance
The California Coastal Act is the primary law that governs the decisions of the Coastal Commission and outlines standards for development within the Coastal Zone. The Act encourages The Coastal Act local governments to create Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) to govern decisions that determine the short- and long-term conservation and use of coastal resources that may be susceptible to sea level rise.

Defining Vulnerable Communities in the Context of Climate Adaptation

Governor's Office of Planning and Research. 2018
Planning and policy guidance
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, with input from the ICARP Technical Advisory Council, developed this resource guide as a starting point for practitioners to use when first considering how to define vulnerable communities in an adaptation context. The document includes the ICARP Technical Advisory Council’s definition of climate-vulnerable communities, a summary of existing statewide assessment tools that can be used to identify vulnerable communities in a climate adaptation context, additional indicators that could be used to assess underlying vulnerability on a case-by-case basis, and a list of process guides that can serve to aid agencies undertaking efforts to define vulnerable communities.

Rising Seas in California: An Update on Sea-Level Rise Science

California Ocean Protection Council. 2017
Flooding Sea level rise
Data, tools, and research Planning and policy guidance
This document synthesizes the current state of sea-level rise science, including advances in modeling and improved understanding of the processes that could drive extreme global sea-level rise as a result of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. It provides guidance to state agencies for incorporating sea-level rise projections into planning, design, permitting, construction, investment and other decisions.

State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance

California Ocean Protection Council. 2017
Sea level rise
Planning and policy guidance
This updated guidance provides a science-based methodology for state and local governments to analyze and assess the risks associated with sea-level rise, and to incorporate sea-level rise into their planning, permitting, and investment decisions. This Guidance provides: 1. A synthesis of the best available science on sea level rise projections and rates for California; 2. A step-by-step approach for state agencies and local governments to evaluate those projections and related hazard information in decision making; and 3. Preferred coastal adaptation approaches.

California Coastal Commission’s 2015 Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance

California Coastal Commission. 2015
Sea level rise
Planning and policy guidance
Chapter 7 of the California Coastal Commission’s 2015 Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance provides guidance on protecting Public Access and Recreation from the impacts of sea level rise (Section B), as well as protecting Archaeological and Paleontological Resources from the impacts of sea level rise (Section F).

General Plan Guidelines

Governor's Office of Planning and Research. 2017
Drought Extreme heat Flooding Sea level rise Temperature Wildfire
Planning and policy guidance
The Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is statutorily required to adopt and periodically revise the State General Plan Guidelines (GPG) for the preparation and content of general plans for all cities and counties in California. The GPG provides guidance on SB 379, which requires local governments to include a climate change vulnerability assessment, measures to address vulnerabilities, and comprehensive hazard mitigation and emergency response strategy. It also provides guidance on climate change as it relates to General Plans, such as the role of CEQA guidelines in supporting GHG emissions reductions in General Plans, CEQA streamlining, and greenhouse gas emissions inventory, targets, and reduction measures.

General Plan Guidelines Online Mapping Tool

Governor's Office of Planning and Research. 2017
Flooding Sea level rise Wildfire
Data, tools, and research
The General Plan Guidelines Online Mapping tool draws data sets from multiple sources, allowing users to incorporate local, regional, and statewide data as available into local general plans without cost. This tool can be useful for local governments as they update their Safety Elements to include climate change adaptation. This tool is meant to be used in coordination with Cal-Adapt and the MyHazards planning tool from the California Office of Emergency Services. Content and data will be augmented over time to respond to user feedback.

Local Coastal Programs Resources for Local Governments

California Coastal Commission. 2018
Ocean acidification Sea level rise
Planning and policy guidance
Resources on this page are intended to help local government planning agencies to develop, implement, evaluate, and maintain their Local Coastal Programs (LCPs). Resources include a Local Coastal Program Update Guide, a summary of recent LCP activity throughout the state, tips and best practices, and more.

State Hazard Mitigation Plan

Governor's Office of Emergency Services. 2018
Extreme heat Extreme storms Sea level rise Temperature Wildfire
Planning and policy guidance
The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) leads state disaster preparation, response, and recovery. Cal OES works directly with local, state, federal, and private partners to incorporate climate change into longer-term resiliency strategies. Cal OES also continues to incorporate climate change-associated risks into the State’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (SHMP) and to work with local stakeholders to increase awareness of future climate change impacts and incorporate associated countermeasures into their local plans, as directed by the Legislature. The SHMP encourages hazard mitigation planning to protect the environment and to promote sustainable hazard mitigation actions. In line with this priority, the plan aligns with the key principle of promoting and enhancing nature-based solutions, natural processes, and ecosystem benefits while minimizing adverse impacts to the environment. The plan also acknowledges, incorporates, and integrates recognized data on climate change impacts on hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities available from credible scientific sources, into state, local, tribal, and private sector mitigation plans, strategies, and actions.