San Francisco

Report Details Threat of Rising Sea Levels to San Francisco's Embarcadero

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A new report says low-lying areas of the Embarcadero in San Francisco may have to be raised by as much as 7 feet to prevent transit lines and some of the city's most expensive real estate from being washed out by rising waters.

The good news is there's still time to come up with a defensive strategy. The bad news is it's going to be very expensive.

"It’s a multi-billion dollar effort that we have to undertake over the next several decades," Port of San Francisco’s Waterfront Resilience Director Brad Benson said.

Benson warned doing nothing would be worse.

"Inaction is not an option," he said. "We would experience up to $30 billion in damage and disruption if we did nothing."

The port’s Waterfront Resilience Team on Friday released a memo laying out a framework for the port’s plan to defend downtown San Francisco from future flood risk and rising sea levels. The memo warns the Embarcadero may need to be raised anywhere from 2 to 7 feet.

"We need to raise the shoreline to protect downtown and city neighborhoods from coastal flooding, which will worsen in the future," Benson said.

Benson said some funding for the project is tied to President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Benson said the state legislature recently allocated billions to help pay for climate change resilience projects.

"If we build before the disaster, ultimately, we’ll save money for taxpayers," Benson said.

In the meantime, port officials are meeting with their counterparts in other coastal cities like Boston and Seattle to learn how they’re responding to the rising sea level problem.

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