Visual report: How sea level rise threatens SF’s Mission Creek neighborhoods

First of a four-part series on how sea level rise will impact Bay Area communities.

By John King, San Francisco Chronicle, June 4, 2021

“Between now and 2100, California’s Ocean Protection Council deems it ‘likely’ that the bay’s daily tides will climb at least 20 inches because of climate change. The same studies warn there’s a 5 percent chance that the increase could top 50 inches.

“Mission Bay is home to thousands of people as well as a UCSF campus and the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center. The Giants are building residential towers and office buildings on their parking lots on the south flank of China Basin. And the topic of sea level rise looms large.

To prepare for sea level rise, “San Francisco has already budgeted $250 million for upgrade, [including] a subterranean tunnel 12 feet wide to [handle stormwater overflow trying to get to the Channel Pump Station that spills over during high tide].

“Preparing for the unknown [extent of sea level rise] is easier when you’re starting from scratch — as is the case with the Mission Rock megaproject now rising on the south rim of China Basin.

“The Giants are converting their former parking lot into a 28-acre concentration of housing towers and commercial buildings beside a 5-acre bayside park that landscape architect Kate Orff has described as a ‘constructed ecosystem’ with ‘spaces that eventually can be absorbed’ [by rising sea levels].

A 2016 scenario planning study (PDF, 80 pp.) — prepared in part for the city and SPUR — examined sea level risks to the China Basin area and possible mitigation projects.

“[Since the study was released,] the only sign of action is the Port of San Francisco’s partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study flood danger in coming decades to the city’s bay waterfront. The result — still several years off — could mean extra federal funding for whatever projects the city embarks on.

“What counts, officials say, is that the study has helped them grasp the scale of what lies ahead. And the reality that, most likely, none of the answers will be easy.”

Read the full article here, including maps depicting potential sea level impacts across the Bay Area and explanatory illustrations for mitigation projects. (~8 min.)

Return to Northern News here.