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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Learning to Collaborate: Lessons Learned from Governance Processes Addressing the Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Transportation Corridors Across California

  • Author(s): Vantaggiato, Francesca, PhD
  • Lubell, Mark, PhD
  • et al.

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This study was designed to identify lessons learned from experiences of multi-stakeholder collaboration in governance processes focused on adaptation to sea level rise for specific transportation corridors/assets across different areas of California. Four transportation assets in California were selected as case studies: State Route 37 in the Bay Area; the Cardiff Beach Living Shorelines Project and the LOSSAN railroad at Del Mar in San Diego County; and the Port of Long Beach in Los Angeles County. The study methods included attendance of policy meetings; document analysis; and interviews of staff at (local, regional, and state) government bodies, transportation agencies, climate collaboratives, etc. The study identified three major governance challenges shared among these cases: (1) stakeholder involvement or collaboration with ‘unusual’ partners; (2) jurisdictional fragmentation; and (3) lack of funding. The lessons learned to address these challenges were: (a) include a wide range of stakeholders early on in the project; (b) identify an intermediary or facilitator with relevant knowledge and social capital with the stakeholders; (c) establish a forum for negotiations and information exchange; (d) draft a memorandum of understanding with the rules of collaboration; (e) appoint a project manager to tie all the project parts and stakeholders together and sustain engagement; (f) structure the collaboration in tiers from technical/operational to executive/political; (g) explore options to make any given project a multi-benefit project; (h) advocate for a multi-year stream of funding rather than a lump sum; (i) leverage collaboration for funding and highlight, to potential funders, the collaborative element as a means to increase the efficiency of their investment. Issues to consider when deriving lessons from other jurisdictions were: differences in capacity, or available resources and staff; the numbers of actors involved; pre-existing positive collaborative relationships between the actors; exposure of transportation assets to sea-level rise; existing vulnerabilities of the corridor/asset; and the economic relevance of the corridor/asset.

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