Resolution No. 2021-02 for Consideration on October 21, 2021 Resolution on Bay Adapt: Regional Strategy for a Rising Bay


Whereas, climate change will result in the accelerating rise of Bay waters, increased and regular storm frequency and intensity, and rising groundwater. The confluence of more intense winter storms, extreme high tides, and higher runoff, with higher sea levels, will increase the frequency and duration of shoreline flooding long before areas are permanently inundated by sea level rise alone; and

Whereas, sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate and will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. A major storm within the next decade in the Bay Area could result in temporary flooding impacts to 13,000 existing housing units and 70,000 planned housing units, 28,000 socially vulnerable residents, 104,000 existing jobs and 85,000 planned jobs, and 20,000 acres of wetlands habitat that may become permanently inundated within 40 years; and

Whereas, the San Francisco Bay Area is a vibrant, diverse, ecologically unique, innovative, and pioneering region that will be deeply and deleteriously affected by climate change without tremendous effort and investments to adapt to a constantly changing shoreline. The San Francisco Bay shoreline constitutes approximately one-third of the California coastline, but the Bay Area is estimated to experience two-thirds of the negative economic impacts due to the flooding that would occur absent adequate measures to adapt and protect people, places, and habitat; and

Whereas, the Bay Area region’s most socioeconomically vulnerable frontline communities are at the greatest risk of exposure to climate threats, and the impacts of historic and ongoing social and economic marginalization will compound the risks posed by flooding to those communities by reducing a community’s or individual’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and/or recover from a flood event; and

Whereas, the Bay ecosystem is already stressed by human activities that drastically lower its adaptive capacity, and climate change will further alter that ecosystem by inundating or eroding remaining wetlands, changing sediment dynamics, altering species composition, raising the acidity of Bay waters, changing freshwater flows and/or salinity, altering the food web, and impairing water quality. Moreover, further loss of tidal wetlands will increase the risk of shoreline flooding; and

Whereas, flood damage to vital shoreline development, public infrastructure, and facilities such as neighborhoods, commercial centers, airports, seaports, regional transportation facilities, landfills, contaminated lands, and wastewater treatment facilities absent adaptation will require costly repairs and likely will result in the interruption or loss of vital services and/or degraded environmental quality; and

Whereas, the increasingly frequent and severe impacts of climate change in the Bay Area do not conform to jurisdictional boundaries or the planning and regulatory authorities of any one agency or organization; and

Whereas, there are multiple local, regional, state, and federal government agencies with authority over the Bay and its shoreline, and while local governments have broad authority over shoreline land use, they have limited resources to address climate change adaptation and their individual actions, absent a regional context in which to make policy decisions, would lead to a “tragedy of the commons”; and

Whereas, AB 2094 (2008) authorized the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (Commission) to develop regional strategies to address the impacts of, and adapting to, the effects of rising sea levels and other impacts of global climate change on the San Francisco Bay and affected shoreline areas, in coordination with local governments, regional councils of government, and other agencies and interested parties; and

Whereas, in October 2011, the Commission voted to amend the San Francisco Bay Plan (Bay Plan) to include Climate Change policies, the first coastal management program in the country to do so, and subsequently has adopted additional policies to combat the ramifications of rising sea levels in its Bay Plan; and

Whereas, Bay Plan Climate Change Policy 6 states that the “Commission, in collaboration with the Joint Policy Committee [now known as Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC)], other regional, state and federal agencies, local governments, and the general public, should formulate a regional sea level rise adaptation strategy for protecting critical developed shoreline areas and natural ecosystems, enhancing the resilience of Bay and shoreline systems and increasing their adaptive capacity”; and

Whereas, the Commission created the Adapting to Rising Tides program to assist shoreline jurisdictions and neighborhoods become more resilient, and in 2020 completed Adapting to Rising Tides Bay Area, the first comprehensive regional sea level rise vulnerability study; and

Whereas, in October 2019, the Commission adopted guiding principles and Bay Plan policies on environmental justice and social equity to ensure that the needs of vulnerable shoreline communities are addressed as the Commission assists all stakeholders to plan for current and future climate hazards; and,

Whereas, in 2019, the Commission, in collaboration with a Leadership Advisory Group comprised of 35 Bay Area public, private, and non-profit leaders embarked on the development of “Bay Adapt,” a consensus-driven strategy for regional sea level rise adaptation. The Leadership Advisory Group includes representatives from numerous public agencies, including the Association of Bay Area Governments/Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC/ABAG), San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, State Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans, BARC, BART, East Bay Regional Parks, US Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, San Francisco Public Utility Commission, Marin County, and BCDC, as well as environmental justice, environmental, business, scientific, civic, organizations, local government and flood manager networks, and academia; and

Whereas, in 2020 and 2021, hundreds of stakeholders participated in the creation of the “Bay Adapt Joint Platform” through nine Leadership Advisory Group meetings, two public forums, many expert Working Group meetings, ten community and stakeholder focus groups, over 50 presentations around the region, and a month-long public feedback opportunity. The Commission also received numerous briefings on Bay Adapt throughout its development; and

Whereas, the Bay Adapt Joint Platform lays out a set of guiding principles, priority actions, and vital tasks whose implementation will enable the region to adapt faster, better, and more equitably to a rising San Francisco Bay. If fulfilled, it will reduce flood risks for communities, businesses, infrastructure, and habitat; protect natural areas and wildlife; recognize and equitably support low-income, frontline communities; robustly integrate adaptation into community-focused local plans; accelerate permitting and project construction; and increase technical assistance for local governments and funding for adaptation; and

Whereas, the BARC Governing Board endorsed it on September 17th 2021, and the Bay Adapt Leadership Advisory Group supports the Joint Platform and many members agreed to help implement it at its October 2021 meeting; and

Whereas, implementing the Joint Platform’s many and varied actions and tasks goes beyond the capacity of any single organization, requires strong and broad leadership and participation, and the Commission has convened and led a broad coalition of stakeholders in many tasks throughout the development of the Joint Platform.

Now, therefore, be it resolved:

  1. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission adopts, supports, and champions the Bay Adapt Joint Platform, a regional strategy for a rising Bay, including the guiding principles, actions, and tasks contained within; and
  2. The Commission will lead and support the implementation of Bay Adapt by serving as the “backbone” agency responsible for leading and managing the overall program, acting as the Lead or Co-Lead for key tasks, and participating in and advising numerous other tasks.

We certify that this resolution was adopted by a vote of            “yes” votes,            “no” votes and            abstentions at the Commission meeting held on October 21, 2021, at San Francisco, CA. Executed on this 21st day of October, 2021 at San Francisco, California.


Executive Director

October 15, 2021