Executive Summary

Resilient Shore is uniquely poised to address accelerating climate change impacts on San Rafael and the Bay Area by focusing on transformational shore resiliency, because our communities and infrastructure are extremely vulnerable to existing flood threats and ongoing sea level rise.

Our work includes planning and policy advocacy, heightened public awareness, education and participation, and identifying design options for shore resiliency, flood risk reduction, wetlands restoration and transportation projects.

Time critical actionsSan Rafael, Marin County, and regional leaders are making decisions now regarding our shoreline architecture and transportation infrastructure. Presenting compelling and viable planning solutions will inform and influence these decisions to achieve key policy changes and include desired projects in regional funding priorities.

We are committed to working with the City of San Rafael, landowners, businesses and the community to build a more resilient, efficient, and equitable San Rafael and Transportation Gateway to Central and Northern Marin, the North Bay and Redwood Empire.

Over the past three years we have participated in over 100 local planning meetings with upwards of 3000 participants; meetings held by the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods, the Canal Neighborhood, Canal Emergency Preparedness Council, San Rafael Maritime Channel Association, Marin Conservation League, Marin Multicultural Center, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce-East San Rafael Group, Coalition for a Livable Marin, San Rafael Heritage, and Montecito Neighborhood Association.

Locally, our team has provided subject matter expertise, technical assistance, and community outreach for the Rockefeller Foundation-sponsored 2017 and 2018 Bay Area Resilient by Design (RbD) challenge (including Bionic Team’s “Elevate San Rafael” proposal), Marin Audubon’s Tiscornia marsh restoration, the Mayor’s Good Design subcommittee for Downtown San Rafael, and the General Plan 2040 Steering Committee.

Flood Risks in Relief

Central San Rafael Topography: FEMA 100-Year Flood Risk

Virtually all of the colored areas of the map are projected to be inundated by 2100 by rising seas unless adaptation measures are implemented. (Map by Stuart Siegel)

Central San Rafael Shoreline Elevations: FEMA 100-Year Flood Protection Overview

The yellow area shows the Central San Rafael Valley within the FEMA 100-year flood zone.  Line colors indicate the height of the shoreline. Red lines, encompassing over ¾ of the shore exposure, would be breached in a 100-year flood. Only the green line is currently above the 100 and 500-year storm elevations and provides sufficient height to meet FEMA certification requirements. (Map by Stuart Siegel)

Our Response

Our team works with a broad range of federal, state and regional resource agencies, educational research institutions and planning organizations.  A sample of these include Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), Bay Planning Coalition, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), Bay Area Joint Venture, US Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco State University Romberg Ocean and Estuary Center, National Estuary Research Reserve China Camp Project and the State Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

Major planning and funding initiatives, including:

the Proposed $100 Billion Faster Bay Area Bond Initiative,

the Proposed $135 Million Improvements to the US 101/I-580 Connector,

the 2040 San Rafael General Plan Update and

the Marin Community Foundation Grants Program

are poised to dramatically reshape San Rafael and North Bay Transportation Gateways.

Within our overall focus on existing flood threats and ongoing sea level rise, our proposed actions also address current transportation infrastructure impediments. Southeast San Rafael (the area between the Canal and the US 101/I-580 corridors) and especially the Canal neighborhood, has severely impaired access. These roadway deficiencies result in mobility impediments and economic inequities.

  • Existing roadway design poses an evacuation risk to East San Rafael – home to approximately 16,000 residents, critical infrastructure, and much of Marin county’s support services – that would be isolated following a major flood and/or earthquake.
  • The incomplete interchange at I-580 and US 101 increases afternoon and evening traffic congestion in Larkspur and San Rafael. Regional commuters use local streets. The US 101/Bellam exit ramps are particularly problematic.
  • The current SMART railroad has eight grade crossings in Central San Rafael, is limited to a three-car train length, and most of the track, from San Rafael to Petaluma, is vulnerable to sea level rise.
  • The current Larkspur SMART train station, located 0.4 miles from the Larkspur ferry terminal, lacks connectivity with the rest of the transit network serving the Bay Area.

In addition to time-sensitive planning and policy advocacy for current and upcoming transportation infrastructure improvements, the City of San Rafael is in the process of updating the 2040 General Plan. It is of the utmost importance that we move forward with:

  • Helping the City of San Rafael secure funds for planning and preparing a Shore Flood Risk Reduction/Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan, and ensuring East San Rafael Transportation Objectives are included in the policies and actions in the General Plan.
  • Building a Shore Resiliency Planning Grant Program within the Marin Community Foundation with emphases on: disadvantaged communities and places with the greatest potential for loss from flooding and sea level rise, protection of infrastructure, landscape scale solutions that reconcile social, economic, and environmental considerations, and incorporate stakeholder participation and needs.