The Bay Area’s current boom times represent a good news/bad news story. From Dogpatch to San Mateo to Alameda, bayside property is especially desirable — but increasingly complicated.
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.
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.
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.
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
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study that detailed how the Mission Bay neighborhood would be inundated by rising seas in coming decades went unpublished for more than a year while two showcase waterfront developments won key approvals from city officials and voters, a Public Press review of records shows.
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.
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.
If passed, Measure AA would help protect coastal real estate from sea level rise by funding wetland restoration. Beneficiaries could include major developers and tech companies in Silicon Valley.
Google, Facebook and others are building headquarters along the shoreline as scientists paint a grimmer picture for coastal development.