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SF’s Ferry Building to be Raised 7 Feet to Protect from Sea Level Rise?

To help stop San Francisco’s waterfront from becoming flooded regularly like Venice, a bold (and expensive) plan is being considered
By - posted 9/13/2023 No Comment

Thanks to NPR for letting us know about San Francisco’s bold (and expensive) new plan to protect the important city buildings in case sea levels continue to rise.

And so SF’s iconic Ferry Building may soon be getting a lift. Although there are no actual plans or specific proposals in place yet, according to Elaine Forbes, executive director of the Port of San Francisco, City officials are considering to somehow raise this historic structure by 7 feet to safeguard the waterfront landmark from the growing threat of rising sea levels and climate-related challenges.

It’s also unclear why this proposal would be need if other contingency plans are put in place such as efforts to raise/strengthen the city’s seawall and build pumping stations that would help protect more of the shoreline.

See the full Port of San Francisco Waterfront Resilience Program

In the past, our city’s biggest concerns centered mostly around earthquakes, but now, possible sea level rise is becoming the pressing issue. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized this potential danger in 2016 when it included a portion of our urban shoreline on its list of the U.S.’s most endangered historic places due to the looming threat of sea level rise.

According to the Mercury News, San Francisco Bay has risen 8 inches since the mid 1800s and during heavy storms on high tides (like King Tides), the water level can rise another foot.

Parts of roads that run along the waterfront have flooded in recent years from heavy rains. And in a worst case scenario, California estimates the sea level could rise up to two and a half feet by 2060, and could rise three to seven feet by 2100.

Coastal Flood Risk

3.5 feet of sea level rise + 1% Annual Chance Event

Why not just raise the seawall?

To defend against coastal flooding, we can raise the shoreline by raising and strengthening the City’s seawall, sections of which are 140 years old. But that creates another problem: inland flooding behind the raised shoreline when it rains and groundwater rises. Inland flooding can typically be addressed with pumping the inland flooding back into the Bay.

And so San Francisco is contemplating the daring feat of lifting the building 7 feet above its current position as part of the broader Waterfront Resilience Program – an ambitious project comes with a significant price tag, estimated in the billions of dollars.

Read the full story at NPR