Planning for Sea Level Rise in the San Fransico Bay Area

by guest bloggers: Jason Landers, German Gordo, Rodilei Silva Morais, and Chad Yoakley from EMP 462: Coastal & Marine Planning

It is common knowledge that climate change will bring about new and potentially irreversible impacts to many coastal communities throughout the nation. Climate science proves that coastal communities are vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR), however, many counties and cities are not effectively planning for the threat of SLR. A recent article by Emily Dugdale in the San Francisco Public Press surveyed 13 cities and counties in the Bay Area to assess their SLR planning efforts.

According to their findings, few counties and cities are effectively planning for SLR and limiting growth along the coast. Most of the participating cities and counties are studying SLR, but many of the proposed projects in the Bay Area do not incorporate the threat of a rising ocean nor are the projects required to be flood-proofed. Further, less than half of the cities and counties have completed vulnerability assessments in their coastal zones.

The results of this survey revealed that there is a significant gap in public awareness of sea level rise and its impacts on vulnerable communities in the future. Of the 13 participants, only four – San Francisco, San Jose, Mountain View, and Santa Clara – have put significant effort into planning for SLR.

The table below highlights the actions that Bay Area cities and counties are currently taking.


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