United States

Peninsula Properties Worth Billions May Be at Risk to Rising Sea Levels: Report

Nearly one-third of properties and 100,000 people in San Mateo County may be at risk to rising sea levels, a new report shows.

A landfill teetering on the edge of the eroding coastline, airports in the area and a quickly eroding coastal bluff are of particular concern to the county, according to a vulnerability assessment surveying cities over the last two years.

"The economic consequences of doing nothing alone are great," the report states. "The assessed value of parcels exposed to near-term flooding exceed $1 billion and parcels exposed to long-term flooding and erosion carry an estimated value of $39.1 billion." 

The eroding coastline has been of concern for years, but following El Niño-fueled storms that caused millions of dollars in damages to the county, the assessment is trying to estimate the impact of future flooding.

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Aside from the assessed value, 7,000 acres of wetland and 360 miles of road are estimated to be in areas affected by the environmental changes.

The report has not surveyed areas south of Half Moon Bay yet.

"San Mateo County is one of the most vulnerable areas in the U.S. to sea level rise with thousands of lives and billions of dollars of property at risk," Supervisor Dave Pine said.

After a year of teetering on the edge, a cliffside apartment building at 310 Esplanade in Pacifica on Monday was demolished. Demolition was over in a matter of hours, but a complete cleanup process could take a few days. Michelle Roberts reports.

This study comes after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requested state agencies to prepare for rising sea levels in 2008. Policies were later adopted by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which required any major shoreline development to consider sea levels into its planning assessments.

Previous reports anticipated that San Francisco International Airport could flood within decades.

The California State Coastal Conservancy, Arcadis U.S., Inc. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the county to conduct its survey using funds from a Climate Ready grant and will continue its research through the summer.

Following a presentation to the County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors Tuesday, there are two workshops planned for April 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Burlingame Main Library, Lane Community Room, 501 Primrose Road, Burlingame, and April 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Ted Adcock Community Center, 535 Kelly Ave., Half Moon Bay for the public to learn more about the report's findings.

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