The San Rafael Operational Landscape Unit (OLU) “has the highest proportion of people flooded at early water levels of the 30 OLUs throughout the region.” – ART Adapting to Rising Tides: Local Assessments Section B Page 29,  April 2020

On April 28th, Resilient Shore hosted an informational webinar with Dana Brechwald, the Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Program Manager at the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Dana presented key findings from the just-released ART Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Study.

Ms. Brechwald, a Sun Valley San Rafael resident and former Resilience Planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Association of Bay Area Governments focusing on hazard mitigation and long‐term disaster recovery planning, is familiar with the city’s unique resiliency opportunities and challenges.

San Rafael “HotSpots” Will be Impacted First

The San Rafael Operational Landscape Unit (OLU) encompassing San Rafael Creek and adjacent smaller watersheds between Point San Pedro and Point San Quentin has been identified as a Regional “Hot Spot” due to its concentration of critical regional infrastructure assets.

The San Rafael OLU has major transportation infrastructure such as US 101, I 580, SMART, the San Rafael transit center and the North South Greenway.  It also includes the Canal Neighborhood, Marin’s largest and densest disadvantaged community and approximately 60% of the city’s sales tax base.

“The San Rafael Downtown Priority Development Area (PDA)is a 340-acre Transit Town Center that covers a 1⁄2-mile radius around the San Rafael SMART rail station and San Rafael Transit Center. US-101 runs north-south within the PDA.

Southern portions of the PDA are along Anderson Drive and US-101 are first exposed at 12” TWL (Total Water Level). By 48” TWL, flooding crosses into downtown and covers extensive portions of the PDA.

Critical facilities that provide emergency services and utilities may be impacted by flooding . First impacts begin at 36” TWL and increase through 108” TWL.”

– – ART Adapting to Rising Tides: Local Assessments Section B Page 16,  April 2020

During the webinar Ms. Brechwald highlighted key findings from the 205-page report (available for download here), most demonstrably the fact that the greater San Rafael area is consistently the first to be impacted by even the lowest sea level rise predictions.

During the webinar, participants representing San Rafael community-based organizations, non-profits, recreational groups and local government agencies asked excellent questions, such as:

  • Are city officials aware of these maps and projections, and what are they doing to address the threats?
  • Given the fact that development in one location impacts other areas, how can we correlate and connect local and regional planning for sea level rise?
  • How will studies like this be applied when making future decisions about transportation hubs?
  • How do state and county parks fit into priorities for wetland mitigation conservation measures?

For answers to all these questions, and more, see the following links:

The local assessment for the San Rafael OLU can be downloaded here.

The video recording for Dana’s webinar can be viewed on this link.

The audio recording for Dana’s webinar can be accessed via this link.

A transcript of the recording for Dana’s webinar can be downloaded via a separate link.

Citizens interested in providing direct input by participating in a BCDC working group can contact Dana directly: her information is on this link.