West Cliff is one of the most iconic promenades along coastal California and the world. It is the soul of our west side community.
On any given day, thousands of locals and visitors walk, bike, or drive along its rugged cliff top enjoying a commanding view of Monterey Bay. Along the way, they see surfers riding world-class waves, whales breaching, otters feeding their young in the kelp beds, and a myriad of other creatures.
West Cliff has been under threat for many decades and is now facing acceleration of rising seas and stronger waves.
In 2020, at the requirement of the California Coastal Commission, the City of Santa Cruz touted a West Cliff Drive Adaptation and Management Plan to tackle climate change. The Plan, steeped in science using the most advanced thinking in sustainability and adaptability, was to manage the next few decades as climate change threatened West Cliff.
The West Cliff Drive Adaptation and Management Plan was adopted by City Council on April 27, 2021. The City took the Plan and the Local Coastal Program Amendment to the California Coastal Commission; however, the City and our community are still waiting on approval from the Commission.
On January 5th 2023, a very unusual WSW swell (26ft@18sec from 255 deg) combined with a 7’ high tide pummeled West Cliff fueled by one of a series of Atmospheric Rivers hitting the west coast of California.
The resulting damage has been all over the local, national, and international news. Gary Griggs, renowned UCSC geologist and historian, said he had never seen so much damage in such a short period of time.
Sometimes it takes a catalytic event to get everyone to realize how much a place means to us. It’s time for all of us to come together, talk about where we want to take West Cliff, and take action.
We know this is going to be a challenging endeavor.
We have a solid base from which to work, as the West Cliff Drive Adaptation and Management Plan is a starting point for this effort. We are convening a group called Save West Cliff to help our community develop a plan in conjunction with the City and County of Santa Cruz and local nonprofits that will make our kids and grandkids proud. And we would love you to join us. We don’t need donations at this time; we need people with perspectives and skills who want to help build a big, long-term vision.
“The opportunity ahead is bigger than West Cliff Drive itself. It is about the ecosystem and history that surrounds the West Cliff Recreational Area. It is about preserving our coastline for future generations and becoming a model for other California communities. It is about the surf breaks, bike paths, walking trails, endangered species and the sheer joy of the vantage point across one of the world’s wonders." – Monterey Bay
Come join us, and let’s roll up our sleeves to take on mission impossible!