County of Marin - News Releases - C-SMART Award

For Immediate Release
March 28, 2018

Sea-Level Rise Planners Capture National Award

Collaborative program emphasizes community education about risk, adaptation

San Rafael, CA – A County of Marin-managed program that includes local residents in sea-level rise adaptation along the Pacific Coast has captured a top award from the American Planning Association (APA).

People from Stinson Beach sit around a table learning about sea-level rise at a past public meeting.Residents from Stinson Beach participate in a public workshop about sea-level rise.
The Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) has received the APA’s Gold 2018 National Planning Achievement Award for Environmental Planning for a program called Collaboration: Sea-Level Marin Adaptation Response Team (C-SMART). Marin CDA was one of 16 APA Achievement Award winners announced March 28.

This is the second National Planning Achievement Award for the County. In 2017, the same team won the equivalent award in the public outreach category for its all-original Game of Floods board game that helps players learn about the planning challenges and risks associated with pending sea-level rise.

With rising sea levels and the frequency and intensity of storms increasing, coastal communities such as Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Bolinas, and East Shore are being threatened. CDA launched C-SMART in 2014 to engage those vulnerable neighborhoods in understanding, preparing and responding to the changes in climate conditions.

“Embedded throughout C-SMART has been community engagement by the Marin Community Development Agency,” said Mary Halley, president of East Shore Planning Group. “Their staff members have listened closely to our concerns and responded accordingly through the crafting of adaptation options.”

“This coming emergency is creeping up on our coastal communities with each passing year,” said Jack Liebster, C-SMART Planning Manager. “It will take time to develop responses that protect the environment, the economy and equity, so we must begin to act now.”

Those CDA employees involved in C-SMART the past few years include Liebster, Alex Westhoff, Leslie Lacko, Bridgit Van Belleghem, Lauren Armstrong, and Margaret Gurley. County staff members are attending the APA’s national conference in New Orleans in April to receive the award.

Marin County ranks second among nine Bay Area counties for projected risk of impacts from sea-level rise flooding and storms, with potential losses of homes and property estimated in the billions. Flooding associated with high tides and storms already impacts infrastructure and disrupts people’s lives on a recurring basis. The impacts are expected to increase in frequency and severity as sea-level rise accelerates. Vulnerable coastal communities will be disproportionately impacted because flooding will increasingly cut off access to homes, jobs and daily essentials.

Many view sea-level rise as an issue only affecting people living directly on the coast. However, even those living on high ground will be affected if roads to their neighborhoods are flooded or if they can’t flush their toilets because a wastewater treatment plant or septic system is flooded.

The County of Marin is preparing for sea-level rise by identifying vulnerable assets, such as homes, schools, hospitals, roads, electrical stations, wastewater treatment facilities, beaches, and marshes. Through the C-SMART program in West Marin (along the Pacific coast) and BayWAVE in bayside Marin, the County is bringing city governments, asset managers and residents together in a shared understanding of the threat, and to develop a pathway forward.

APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

Learn more about sea-level rise in Marin at


Jack Liebster
Planning Manager
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6278
Email: Jack Liebster
Community Development website