top of page

Estimating the value of California's beaches and beach ecosystems

Beach Recreation

Dr. King developed the California Sediment Benefits Analysis Tool (CSBAT) with the State of California and the US Army Corps of Engineers to help policy makers analyze the most efficient places to use opportunistic sediment.  As demonstrated in his Size Matters paper, beach width and length matter to visitors.


With climate change and sea level rise, this type of analysis will become even more important.  Dr. King’s early studies (DBW SLR, Climatic Change, King/McGregor) examined the trade-offs involved in planning for sea level rise. 

Past work:

Economic Analysis of Beach Spending and the Recreational Benefits of Beaches in the City of San Clemente

2002, San Clemente

Economic Analysis of Beach Spending and the Recreational Benefits of Beaches in the City of Carpinteria

2002, Carpinteria 

The Potential Loss in Gross National Product and Gross State Product from a Failure to Maintain California’s Beaches

2003, Phil King & Douglas Symes

The Fiscal Impact of Beaches in California

1999, for the California Department of Boating and Waterways

Feasibility Study: San Diego Regional Beach Sand Replenishment Project 

2007, SANDAG

The Economic Costs of Sea-Level Rise to California Beach Communities

2008, King, McGregor, & Whittet, for the California Department of Boating and Waterways

Estimating the potential impacts of climate change on Southern California Beaches

2011, Published in Climactic Change 


Can California coastal managers plan for sea-level rise in a cost-effective way?

2015, King, McGregor, Whittet, published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

Our beaches have real value, and we must protect that. 

Dr.King has worked on the economic and fiscal impact of beaches in California for over 25 years.

He works to develop methods to value beaches and calculate cost and benefits, tools which become even more important with climate change and sea level rise.

Beach Ecosystems

His recent article Valuing Beach Ecosystems in an Age of Retreat (link), co-authored with leading beach ecologists, examines the importance of maintaining these ecosystems and the threat they face from armoring and other coastal development.  The article proposes that the California Coastal Commission or other agency institute a no-net-loss policy for beach ecosystems in California.  Even with such a policy, California is likely to lose many beaches due to sea level rise.


Maintaining and preserving California’s precious beaches in an age of sea level rise will be challenging.  Beach restoration including dune restoration and beach nourishment will likely be part of the solution, at least in the near to medium term (5-30 years).  Dr. King is currently working on a Beach Sustainability Analysis (BSA) tool with CSU colleague Kiki Patsch.

After working on the recreational value of beaches for over ten years, Dr. King’s research focus turned to the non-recreational value of beaches.  Beaches provide a wide variety of ecological functions, goods and services (EFGS) besides recreation that often go unnoticed.  Indeed, beaches provide many of the same EFGS as wetlands, (e.g., habitat and nesting for birds, water filtration) yet often are treated as sand deserts where visitors put down their towels to recreate.  

bottom of page