APRIL 2021
The new urgency around sea level rise adaptation and social justice is sharpening the focus of the 2016 Estuary Blueprint, being updated this spring, while related planning upstream wades deeper into the implications of higher tides and temperatures for the Delta. The Estuary, where salty Pacific water intermingles with fresh Sierra snowmelt, not only connects vulnerabilities across the 13-county region but also mingles two major regional planning efforts related to water. The Blueprint, a multi-partner collaborative vision of what a healthy lower estuary looks like in 2050, and 32 actions to get us there, is currently undergoing its third facelift. “In five years the landscape has dramatically shifted and we need to realign our focus,” says San Francisco Estuary Partnership planner James Muller, noting advancements in carbon and sediment management, low impact development, and in prioritizing environmental justice. Meanwhile, the Delta Stewardship Council recently finished its first regional climate vulnerability study. The report’s view of 2050 is less aspirational, and more bleak: extreme drought, heat, and floods impacting hundreds of thousands of acres and over 50,000 Delta residents, most of them in already socially vulnerable populations. Together, these two efforts showcase the tremendous cost and consequence of the dangerous climate whirlpool the Bay-Delta region is heading towards, and the calm currents of a proactive course correction.
CCMP Image: Afsoon Razavi 
Two Leaders Seek to Humanize and Connect Estuary Planning
Climate change is just one increasingly urgent challenge discussed by Caitlin Sweeney of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and Amanda Bohl of the Delta Stewardship Council in this new podcast on how to refresh, update, and connect management of the Bay and Delta system.
Several Bay Area cities are looking at zoning changes that could help move housing out of fire-and-flood prone urban edges. In February, the Berkeley City Council approved a resolution doing away with single-family zoning, allowing for denser development in the city. The move is intended to address both the city’s housing shortage and the racist history of its single-family zoning, but the resolution also cites wildfire risk and sea-level rise considerations. The cities of Oakland, San Jose and South San Francisco are considering similar changes. Density from larger urban infill projects where people need it most remains critical, such as the 185-unit, 6-building affordable housing complex going up in East Palo Alto (spring 2021 pour pictured above).

The North Bay’s flood-prone and traffic-plagued Highway 37 is the subject of a townhall being held by State Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd the evening of April 15 to review alternatives and gather public feedback on options for making the roadway more resilient.

One of the region's earliest pilots in multi-jurisdiction shoreline adaptation planning has completed a master plan that was recently approved by the Hayward City Council. The Hayward Regional Shoreline Adaptation Master Plan covers a stretch of shoreline with multiple landowners that is home to critical infrastructure such as a wastewater treatment plant and the eastern approach to the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge.

On Marin County's wave-lashed ocean coast, Stinson Beach has begun developing a plan to address the vulnerabilities faced by the low-lying coastal town. The plan will be based on findings of the County's 2018 Sea Level Rise Adaptation Report.
How much mud do we need to save our marshes from rising seas and how will we move it into position? If the future is drier there's one answer, and if it's wetter another (see chart), but the ballpark is 477,000,000 cubic yards. That’s the amount of sediment needed to sustain the ring of wetlands now protecting shoreline communities and infrastructure from a rising Bay, according to a new SF Estuary Institute report. Moving this much sediment into the right places--enough to fill the Sales Force skyscraper 670 times--will require the largest multi-decade public works project in the Bay Area’s history, says the Institute’s Warner Chabot. The report explores various nature-assisted methods of deploying the necessary material, ranging from spraying mud on the marsh surface and seeding it into the water column to placing it in the shallows near needy marshes. It also does a supply and demand breakdown, and reviews various sediment sources. Some, like dredged sediment now dumped at sea, are being wasted at a time when every grain is gold. Hard edges don't have much flex when it comes to changing conditions, so climate-ready infrastructure needs to be softer and greener. Indeed, the local push to reinvent Bay Area shorelines defines exactly what Biden’s reimagined infrastructure for the 21st century is all about. Science-based solutions with an assist from nature.

Chart: Total sediment supply from the Bay and Delta (striped colors) and Bay tributaries (solid) under different scenarios. SFEI 2021.
The U.S. recommendations for a healthy diet come with a comparatively high carbon footprint, according to a study from Tulane University. The study looked at greenhouse gas emissions from seven countries' dietary recommendations and found that the 3.83 kg CO2 footprint from the U.S. was the largest in the group. Due to high dairy consumption, even an American vegetarian diet has a footprint more than twice that recommended by India.
Scientists fear the warming ocean is causing an arm of the powerful Gulf Stream to weaken, reports the New York Times in an amazing interactive feature.
Three sites along the East Bay shoreline will demonstrate potential pathways for shoreline adaptation, as part of the San Francisco Bay Trail Risk Assessment and Adaptation Prioritization Plan led by the East Bay Regional Park District. One site called the Northwest Territory, planned as a new district park, will feature a Bay Trail extension around the full extent of Alameda Point. The site’s low-lying elevation presents both a flood risk to existing structures and an opportunity to restore valuable marsh habitat. Project consultants WRT, an urban planning and landscape architecture firm, stress the importance of collaboration in crafting successful shoreline adaptation projects. WRT’s proposal for Alameda Point also hinges on the ability to remediate contamination left behind by the US Navy. Their “Full Potential” design, which assumes robust remediation of contaminated areas, would create more than 100 acres of tidal marsh and a western shoreline resistant to erosion from high wind and wave action. Their “Limited Potential” design, which works with the known design parameters set by soil contamination cleanup, offers comparatively modest wetland habitat and less space for habitat migration as the sea level rises. As such, the containment of contaminated soil and planned public access could be compromised by the end of the century. “The design options are presented here to keep open conversations with all of the stakeholders involved in the development of this significant regional park," says WRT Principal John Gibbs.
Conversations With Two Bay Area Youth Climate Activists
Oona Clark, who came to Bay Area Youth Climate Summit after working with Sunrise Movement and providing voter education on the Green New Deal, knows how inaccessible activism can feel. “I didn’t know where to start, and I think that’s one of the biggest obstacles for youth activists,” says the 17-year-old. She encourages budding activists to look inwards. “Find your niche. Figure out what you’re good at, what you want to do. There’s going to be a way you can apply it.”

Through the Summit, Clark is working to break down the barriers that keep youth from joining the movement. “Not everybody has to be Greta Thunberg. If you can only devote one hour a week that’s fine.There’s so many people behind each power activist—and you can be one of those people,” she says.  

For Clark, the importance of intersectionality in the climate movement is always top of mind. “I view the climate crisis as very important and that’s what I want to be directly involved in. But all these systemic issues like racism and sexism are connected, so wherever you are, whatever your passion is, it’s all important right now.”
After originally discovering the event on Instagram, Natalie Tam helped plan last year’s youth climate summit. While she may have connected online, Tam's motivation to fight for the planet comes from her offline experiences. “I love to go to Ocean Beach and look at the water and the Marin Headlands, and think about how beautiful our planet is, and the fact that we only have one home.”

As a youth activist, Tam feels heard and supported within her school by teachers and administrators, but has observed that many adults resist change because they find it uncomfortable.  

She has learned that the best way to encourage people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles is to make alternatives approachable. “A lot of people think it’s out of their control, like I’m just one person and I don’t matter. But really there is so much power in individual change, and you can use your actions—from what companies you support and what food you buy—to create another world.”
Illustration: Sophia Zaleski
The Bay Area Youth Climate Summit's Earth Day Event takes place on April 24th.
With bone-dry California facing another dangerous fire season, Governor Newsom has signed a $536 million wildfire prevention plan. The money—a down payment on the $1 billion Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan announced in January—is to be spent before July, primarily on forest management, including prescribed burns, with approximately $25 million also allocated to hardening vulnerable homes against fire. In signing the measure, Newsom noted that the package is only the beginning of the state’s effort to “lean in” on wildfire resilience; the larger plan includes money for community risk reduction and adaptation, protecting wildfire-prone neighborhoods, creating fire-safe roadways, and protecting and expanding the urban canopy, among many other measures.
Supporters of a measure establishing a carbon fee and dividend are hopeful that it will be included in the infrastructure legislation President Biden is negotiating with Congress. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021 (HR 2307), reintroduced on April 1, would levy a fee on fossil fuel pollution--starting at $15 per metric ton and increasing annually--and return it to consumers in a monthly payment. Advocates say the policy would reduce the country’s carbon footprint by 30% in the first five years alone. Biden has indicated that he supports carbon pricing.
Lilian Bui of San Jose: A decade ago we swapped out our backyard covered in ice plant for a garden full of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Some of my favorite herbs to add to meals are crested late-summer mint and perilla (left and right in photo). They’re part of the mint family and give meals a refreshing herbal taste. I snip off several stems and lightly rinse them off in plastic wash basins, but save the water! It is somewhat of an inconvenience to get into the habit of saving lightly used water from rinsing produce or soaking grains, but this water should not go to waste. We collect it in a 5 gallon bucket and bring it back out to water our plants. It is a great way to measure and visualize water waste and to become more conscious of how you use water. Bui's story of her individual act of resilience can be found with others on the fledgling California Climate Quilt. Find us on Instagram @dare25by2025. LB
Photo: Lilian Bui
A review of the latest tools for visualizing local climate change impacts shows noteworthy efforts to cater to regular folk.

Cal-Adapt, an online hub to explore and visualize California’s future climate, has long provided free climate projection data to scientists and data wonks. With its latest feature, the Local Climate Change Snapshot Tool, the focus is a user-friendly version accessible to those without a degree in climate science. Designed to easily provide a basic climate assessment for local planners and community organizations, the tool gives projected future temperature and rainfall stats for any address, neighborhood, or town. “We’re hoping this tool supports people with grant applications and compliance,” said UC Berkeley researcher Lucy Andrews in a March 11 webinar, citing climate analysis requirements for SB379 and the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Grant Program as examples.

In contrast, the Bay Area Hazard Viewer Map with its no-frills interface is more of a workhorse than a show pony. Its focus is current, not future, hazards, and an easy click shows past wildfire locations, earthquake and liquefaction susceptibility, and whether a property is in a tsunami, flood, or landslide zone. Unlike Cal-Adapt there are no resources for users--for context they must click on the source data links to read the documentation to understand what it all really means.
This pilot bi-monthly review covers planning, science, resources, and community voices, and is produced by Acclimatewest in collaboration with the Bay Area Regional Collaborative, Bay-Adapt, Bay Area Climate Action Network, Mycelium, and San Francisco Estuary Partnership. Views expressed are independent of all collaborators.

If you would like to join our project or have ideas for improving it, please email us.

Publisher: Ariel Rubissow Okamoto. Managing Editor: Michael Adamson. Writers: Audrey Mei Yi Brown, Cariad Hayes Thronson, Isaac Pearlman, Lilian Bui. Design: Afsoon Razavi
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