How Bay Area Developers and City Officials Are Preparing for Rising Sea Levels

It’s no secret that sea levels are rising, and the most at-risk regions in the United States are those located along the coasts. For residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, being close to the Pacific Ocean is a major perk, with plenty of beaches and the year-round sunny weather. But of course, the region’s waterfront environment also has residents and developers worried that rising sea levels will force future generations to move away from the area.

According to the National Climate Assessment, sea levels could rise as much as four feet by the end of the century. Over the next few decades, storms and rising sea levels could wreak flooding havoc across the country, including the San Francisco Bay Area. A report from the Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that nearly 4,400 homes in Marin County and 4,100 homes in San Mateo County could potentially be flooded by 2045.

Fortunately, real estate developers and city officials in the region are working together to begin preparing for that possible future. According to Bisnow, developers and city officials are proposing strategies that involve creating infrastructures designed to naturally absorb excess water, thus mitigating the potentially devastating effects of flooding.

Pier 70 project rendering courtesy of Forest City

Elaine Forbes, executive director of the Port of San Francisco, told Bisnow that port officials are working with developers to rebuild several piers along the waterfront. At the mixed-use Pier 70 community, for example, the site is being raised, while special taxes are being added to fund the implementation of flooding adaptation measures, which could protect the area against the effects of rising sea levels.

It’s not only San Francisco that’s taking measures to protect against possible future flooding. In San Leandro, the Monarch Bay Shoreline Development relocated many buildings that were originally proposed along the shoreline. This was a more cost-effective solution than keeping all the buildings where they were intended and raising them further off the ground, according to the Bisnow report.

Some cities have already taken strides to protect the entire municipality against flooding. Leaders of San Mateo County’s 20 cities have joined forces to plan projects that will raise levees and mitigate flood damage, according to ABC 7 News. Foster City has already built a four-foot seawall, and it could be built even higher, ABC 7 News reports.

It remains to be seen how much rising sea levels will affect Bay Area residents, but the possibility of the region becoming a flood hazard zone could be in the foreseeable future.

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