Never Turn Your Back to the Sea

In Malibu, the wealthy California seaside community, beachfront homes still sell for over $20 million, but the iconic surf beaches have shrunk considerably. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that roughly 150,000 existing homes along U.S. coastlines are at risk of being inundated by rising sea levels in the next 15 years. Celebrity homeowners, including Steven Spielberg, and Dustin Hoffman, bulldozed the sand to protect their homes and illegally constructed sea walls to the tune of $50 million. After the coastal commission forced them to tear the seawalls down, bitter fights have pitted residents against conservationists in their struggle to save the coastline.

The second part of this project explores solutions. For instance, Kate Orff, the first landscape architect who received the MacArthur ‘Genius’ fellowship, has a unique approach in that she collaborates with ecologists, engineers, educators, artists, and community members to restore the natural resilience of the land. Integrated are education and recreation centers that connect residents to the restoration efforts. Other coastal cities such as Del Mar are exploring buying back coastal land from homeowners or raising taxes to build expensive sea walls.

The Fight to Save Broad Beach

Malibu homeowners banded together to address sea level rise. A decade later, they are at war with the city, the surfers, and each other.