Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning


City and Regional Planning


Michael Boswell


This project is an assessment of social vulnerability to sea-level rise in the unincorporated coastal area of the County of San Luis Obispo (County) using geospatial and statistical analysis. The intention of this assessment is to inform local climate adaptation efforts now required by state legislation. A social vulnerability index was generated at the Census block group level using 32 variables positively correlated with social vulnerability. The social vulnerability score for each block group is the sum of scores generated for the following principle components: (1) race/ethnicity and disability status, (2) social isolation and age, (3) income, and (4) housing quality and dependence on social services. This study uses Geographic Information Systems software to map social vulnerability scores and building footprints attributed each block group in the coastal planning area. To provide a preliminary assessment of exposure to sea-level rise hazards, social vulnerability and buildings are overlaid with existing spatial datasets for inundation, bluff erosion, dune erosion, and wetland migration induced by sea-level rise in the year 2100. Implications for existing plans and further research include the incorporation of sea-level rise vulnerability into the general plan (safety, land use, and environmental justice elements in particular), local hazard mitigation plan, and local coastal programs.