Current newsletter: December 2018, Holiday Issue. Below are all articles from the current issue.
Resilient Shore: Bringing People Together for a Better Shore
Resilient Shore made great strides toward increasing community awareness of San Rafael’s flood risk and the need to prepare for rising seas. Our new office in Downtown San Rafael increases our public accessibility, providing a physical commitment to our mission and a place to meet with community groups. We expanded our web and social media presence and inaugurated this monthly e-newsletter, Shore News, in August.
The Resilient Shore team has participated in and provided local knowledge and expertise in meetings and activities reaching over 2,800 people in 2018. Our advocacy and outreach efforts helped to bring the Resilient by Design Challenge (RbD) to San Rafael.
We acted as a catalyst to bring San Rafael, Marin County, and local non-governmental organizations together to push for selection of Marin County sites for the Challenge. We are proud of our role in having San Rafael and Marin City selected as two of nine Bay Area RbD sites.
RbD Elevate San Rafael: Understanding Our Challenges, Imagining Out of the Box Solutions
The RbD Bionic Team’s work on Elevate San Rafael provided detailed research and compelling exhibits showing flood and sea level rise impacts in Central and East San Rafael. They developed design concepts for adaptation to rising seas. This work provided a range of ideas that now can be vetted for feasibility along with additional design ideas developed in future community-based shore planning.
RbD Elevate San Rafael: Reaching Out to the Community
Resilient Shore, Shore Up Marin, and Studio for Urban Projects partnered with RbD to bring the community to the RbD events. Together, we participated in several planning and outreach meetings, such as the Flood Fair at Al Boro Center as well as walking, biking, and kayaking tours. Our team members served as guides and provided context on wetlands biology, cultural history, land use, infrastructure systems, flood risk mitigation, and town planning.
Tiscornia Marsh: An Important Step in Restoring Lost Habitat
Marin Audubon, funded by a Marin Community Foundation grant, completed conceptual design alternatives for the restoration of Tiscornia Marsh on the south side of the San Rafael Canal entrance. The marsh has been eroding at an alarming rate over the last several decades: nearly three acres of tidal marsh have been lost since the late 1980s. The preferred concept includes constructing beaches and jetties to stop erosion and using dredge materials to restore the lost marsh. Marin Audubon has submitted a grant application for Measure AA funds to complete the next project phase of engineering design, environmental analysis and permitting.
McInnis Marsh: Recreating Missing Habitat Between Hamilton and China Camp
Marin County Parks partnered with Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District and the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District to complete 30% of the necessary construction documents for restoration of McInnis Marsh. This area is located along the bay shore in the Las Gallinas Creek watershed. It will ultimately restore subtidal and intertidal habitat on 180 acres of diked wetlands. This effort will support sensitive species including steelhead, salt marsh harvest mouse, and shorebirds including black rails and Ridgeway rails. A horizontal levee will protect the McInnis golf course and the Bay Trails from sea-level rise.
San Rafael Canal: Maintaining our Maritime Heritage
The San Rafael Channel Association and the City of San Rafael are tackling the challenge of securing funding to dredge the Channel. They aim to keep it viable for boating, recreation, and public safety as well as to reduce flood risk for Central and East San Rafael. The San Rafael Channel Association has been very effective working with the City to engage our elected representatives and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, securing their support and guidance. The City and Channel Association are exploring funding sources, including the Army Corps FY’20 Workplan, Reprogramming Funds, and Public Private Partnerships with the City of Petaluma.
China Camp and North San Pedro Road: Protecting a Critical Road Link
The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (SF Bay NERR) succeeded in securing a NERRS Science Collaborative grant to support a collaborative process among several stake-holders to prepare project alternatives for keeping the critical San Pedro Road loop through China Camp State Park open to vehicle and bicycle traffic. This effort was spearheaded by Supervisor Damon Connolly. In addition to providing public access to this remarkable unaltered estuarine reserve along San Rafael’s shore, this road is an essential emergency link between Santa Venetia and Peacock Gap in the event of an emergency such as a wildfire or the closure of US 101 over Puerto Suelo Hill.
Solutions for maintaining roadway access will consider how to accommodate rising tides while enhancing the natural environment. Improving tidal flows to wetlands on the landward side of the road will allow the tidal marsh to migrate upslope as an adaptation to sea-level rise. Hard infrastructure surrounding the estuary is a major impediment to the ability of tidal marshes to adapt to sea-level rise. It is anticipated that this project will act as a pilot to help inform a process for other communities to address this and other important socio-economic ramifications associated with this issue.
San Rafael General Plan 2040 Update: Shore Resiliency as City Policy
Cities throughout California are required by the state to periodically update their general plans and San Rafael is in the process of updating its General Plan. This is an opportunity to include shore resiliency in city land use policy. A presentation on Planning for Sea-Level Rise was made to the 2040 Steering Committee on December 12th. Laurel Dell 5th grade Elementary School students also presented their ideas for sea-level rise adaptation and downtown design ideas to the Steering Committee. City staff and the Steering Committee are in the process of determining how to incorporate the 2017 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, climate change resiliency, and reducing flood risk into the General plan update.
Resilient Shore Executive Director Jeff Rhoads serves on the steering committee. The steering committee meets monthly in open public meetings. San Rafael is actively seeking public input for the general plan update. To learn more, click here.
STRAW: Restoring Habitat One Plant at a Time
In March and April of 2018, eight classes of Bahia Vista Elementary School students planted native plants at Pickleweed Park as part of Point Blue’s Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW) Program. The project at Pickleweed Park was made possible through a partnership with the City of San Rafael and Marin Audubon.
STRAW addresses climate change through innovative restoration practices that students implement through cutting-edge restorations proven to increase ecosystem health and resilience. Besides providing all the benefits of any professional-quality habitat restoration, STRAW has the added benefit of bringing in community ownership and integrated science education. The 5th graders at Bahia Vista are part of STRAW’s Multi-Visit Program, which gives students a more in-depth and inquiry-based approach to local wetland science and environmental action.
Youth in Arts: Young Designers Create a Vision for the Shore
San Rafael school students participated in Resilient by Design: Elevate San Rafael by learning about the environment and how flooding and sea-level rise will impact their city. They explored ideas and created design solutions for Central and East San Rafael, presenting them at the RbD Flood Fair. This was made possible through the Youth in Arts (YIA) program, working with AIA Associate Dr. Shirl Buss from UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. Their goal is to innovate for and solve real world problems like climate-driven sea level rise in Marin. Fifth graders at Laurel Dell Elementary school have also been working with the YIA/Y-PLAN team to imagine the future of their city and provide input into the San Rafael 2040 City Plan. Several of the students recently presented their work for city leaders (see above).
Letter from the Executive Director
2018 has been a milestone year in Resilient Shore’s quest to increase awareness of flood risk and the need to prepare San Rafael for rising seas. Our city made progress on resiliency projects in China Camp, Tiscornia Marsh, and McInnis bay lands. This builds on landmark projects including the Aramburu Island Restoration, the 2014 white paper prepared by Paul Jensen (San Rafael’s Community Development Director), and the 2017 Bay Wave Vulnerability Assessment prepared under Chris Choo’s leadership for Marin County.
The Bionic Team’s Resilient by Design Challenge’s Elevate San Rafael project brought our community together. We now have a better understanding of existing and future climate challenges and are starting to consider how to respond. The research and exhibits show the impacts of flooding and rising tides and their effect on the heart of our city over time. Bionic’s design ideas are certainly thought provoking and provide an excellent starting point for creating a Shore Plan.
We are urgently aware that as a community we need to double down immediately on our efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing our carbon footprint, increasing carbon sequestration, and adapting by planning for a resilient future.
At Resilient Shore, we aim to ride this wave of community awareness and engagement in 2019. Further delay will reduce our community’s choices, result in hardship, and drive up cost and competition for resources.
San Rafael’s 2040 General Plan update provides an opportunity to include mitigation and adaptation policies in the city’s key blueprint for the future. Resilient Shore will work with the city and community representatives to incorporate policies to reduce flood risk and adapt to seal level rise into the General Plan.
We will continue to inform the community through Shore News stories about our remarkable shoreline, its natural and cultural history and the good works being done by many to protect and enhance it. We will also provide information on how to address challenges.
The Resilient Shore team will continue to reach out to all community groups: our immigrant community, the Channel Association, environmental stewards, business, government, recreation, and residents. When people better understand each other’s needs, it is easier to develop mutual respect and trust. We’ll work on identifying a range of potential risk-reduction and adaptation solutions through community-based planning. That way we can evaluate social, economic and environmental impacts and build consensus on how to move forward together.
This coming year in 2019, we will be creating a public/private partnership that features a robust Advisory Board. We aim to focus technical and design resources to build a planning team in partnership with the City of San Rafael. Our goal is to raise seed funds to serve as a local match for grants to fund a San Rafael Shore Plan.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. Please help us achieve our 2019 goals by participating in meetings and events, making tax deductible donations to Resilient Shore through MarinLINK, and providing stories for Shore News. Together we can do this!
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Joyous New Year
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