Environmental policy

California’s Push for Affordable Housing Could Weaken Environmental Law

Kevin Stark, San Francisco Public Press — Jul 25 2017 - 4:11pm

The Legislature’s efforts to ease the housing-affordability crisis could chip away at longstanding protections in the state’s landmark environmental law. Two such bills were introduced by San Francisco lawmakers.

Mapping the Shoreline Building Boom as Seas Rise

Kevin Stark and Mary Catherine O'Connor, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 21 2017 - 5:36pm

A 2015 analysis by the Public Press found that Bay Area builders were investing more than $21 billion in 27 large waterfront projects at less than 8 feet above high tide. That elevation could see occasional flooding by the end of this century. Since then, developers have crafted plans for another eight large-scale commercial and residential construction projects in that zone. Though not all amounts are yet known, we have tallied more than $1.8 billion in costs associated with buying land parcels and building these proposed projects.

Local Planners Brace for Faster Antarctic Ice Melt

Kevin Stark and Ellyn Beale, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 20 2017 - 8:00am

Across California, policymakers and urban planners at every level of government are struggling with how to respond to new computer models that show massive ice sheets in Antarctica on the brink of collapse.

Visionary Solutions to Bayfront Inundation

Mary Catherine O'Connor, SF Public Press — Apr 20 2017 - 8:00am

Responding to sea level rise requires actions that fall into three categories: fortify infrastructure, accommodate higher water and retreat from the shoreline. Given the economic and cultural ties Bay Area residents have to the water — retreat is a hard sell.

By Weakening Law, Developers Shift Sea Rise Burden to Cities

Kevin Stark, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 19 2017 - 8:27am

Two years ago, the California Supreme Court overturned decades of land-use law by upholding lower court rulings that cities could no longer require developers to take into account the effects of climate change on their projects. That decision has unsettled public officials and planners, and critics say it will allow real estate interests to saddle taxpayers with a gigantic bill to defend against rising seas.

Timeline: Lawyers for Developers Share Tactics to Blunt CEQA

Kevin Stark, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 19 2017 - 8:26am

Invoking recent court decisions, developers are pushing back on the ability of Bay Area cities to use the California Environmental Quality Act to regulate waterfront development and protect residents from rising sea levels

Projects Sailed Through Despite Dire Flood Study

Kevin Stark, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 19 2017 - 8:23am

A city-commissioned environmental study that detailed how the Mission Bay neighborhood would be inundated by rising seas in coming decades went unpublished for more than a year while two showcase waterfront developments won key approvals from city officials and voters, a Public Press review of records shows.

Emails Show How Flood Study Finally Became Public

Kevin Stark, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 19 2017 - 8:21am

Officials offer explanations for 18-month delay in releasing city-funded study that foresees serious climate-related flooding in Mission Bay in the decades ahead. The release followed a public-records request by the Public Press.

Q&A: History Will Condemn Today’s Leaders for Ignoring Rising Seas

Audrey Dilling, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 31 2017 - 5:16pm

We recently caught up with Nate Kauffman, a landscape architecture and urban planning consultant whose work focuses on sea level rise adaptation, at a presentation at the Exploratorium on how cities can better manage development along the waterfront. The talk’s setting was apt: The science museum focused on children’s education sits on stilts just a few feet above the San Francisco Bay along the Embarcadero, a facility almost sure to be flooded within 100 years.

Researchers: Abandon Neighborhoods, Avoid Flood Zone to Limit Sea Level Rise

Kevin Stark, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 30 2017 - 7:00am

The vision of a future San Francisco buttressed by dikes, levees and seawalls over coming decades is being overshadowed by an increasingly accepted alternative: moving away from the waterfront. Some experts argue that physical barriers offer only the illusion of protection and that cities should accept that some neighborhoods will need to be abandoned.

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