Bay Towns - South Bay

The South Bay and Silicon Valley include some of the lowest-lying and most vulnerable communities to sea level rise in the Bay Area, and at the same time are growing rapidly without big plans for increasing housing and transit connectivity. And yet, Silicon Valley is a global center of innovation. Any innovations in the global effort to address climate change are poised to happen here!  

Furthermore, California’s complex water governance and the complex ownership (yet interconnectivity and interdependency) of the Salt Ponds complicate any holistic approaches to addressing sea-level rise, flood risk and ecological resilience in the South Bay. Completing “resilience” in one place, only magnifies the stresses and vulnerabilities of neighboring places. Without a holistic and large-scale approach, any resiliency efforts in the South Bay will be incomplete.  

We propose 4 transformational projects to help holistically address the various connectivity, equity and environmental issues and create a more resilient South Bay:

First, we reinforce and rearrange the levees to protect low-lying communities while widening the openings at the mouths of creeks, creating micro-deltas along the shore. 

Next, we widen and soften the creek corridors, thereby reducing speed and enabling the detention and absorption of stormwater. The softer and wider creeks become linear parks and trails that connect South Bay Towns to the Bay.  

Next, we identify those ponds that are outside of the Salt Ponds Restoration Project and begin to transition these ponds from water storage, management and treatment – first into recreational water bodies for boating, kayaking, surfing and swimming and then into absorptive tidal marshes as bay waters rise. 

Finally, we identify sites for reinvestment, densification and housing along the South Bay transit corridors of 101, Caltrain and the future high speed rail. 

The result is robust, natural ecological systems alongside thoughtfully planned urbanization to address how the South Bay communities relate to the Bay and to one another.

Any future work in the South Bay would be collaboratively developed with a coalition of local and regional organizations and individuals, beginning with: The City of East Palo Alto; The City of Palo Alto; The City of Mountain View; The City of San Jose; The City of Sunnyvale; Ace Rail; Acterra; Audobon Society; Bay Area Council; Caltrain; Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge; Greenbelt Alliance; San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority; San Mateo County Santa Clara Valley Water District; Santa Clara WPCP; SPUR; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Youth United for Community Action (YUCA); and many others!

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Bay Towns - South Bay

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The Field Operations Team

James Corner Field Operations, Moffatt & Nichol, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, SF BAY National Estuarine Research Reserve, Romberg-Tiburon Center, SFSF, Andrea Baker Consulting, James Lima Planning + Development, The Bay Institute, SeArc / ECOncrete, HT Harvey and Associates, Playhou.se, Adventure Pictures

The Field Operations Team brings a bold and optimistic vision for how the Bay Area can better adapt to climate change, rising sea levels and related environmental stresses in the coming decades.

We begin with the framework of ‘One bay, many communities, many solutions.’ The notion...

James Corner Field Operations, Moffatt & Nichol, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, SF BAY National Estuarine Research Reserve, Romberg-Tiburon Center, SFSF, Andrea Baker Consulting, James Lima Planning + Development, The Bay Institute, SeArc / ECOncrete, HT Harvey and Associates, Playhou.se, Adventure Pictures

The Field Operations Team brings a bold and optimistic vision for how the Bay Area can better adapt to climate change, rising sea levels and related environmental stresses in the coming decades.

We begin with the framework of ‘One bay, many communities, many solutions.’ The notion of ‘One Bay’ speaks to the bay as something shared and fundamental. The notion of ‘Many Communities’ speaks to the great number of settlements that surround the bay, and the great diversity of priorities and points-of-view. The notion of ‘Many Solutions’ speaks to the diversity of conditions around the bay - and the importance of an approach that accommodates rich variation and difference. These three guiding frameworks will form the basis around which our work will take shape.

James Corner Field Operations is an interdisciplinary urban design and landscape architecture practice based in New York City and San Francisco. Our Team of innovative, collaborative and locally-based designers, engineers, ecologists, urban strategists, and communication specialists aims to thoughtfully imagine new possibilities for the Bay Area that can grow in scale, incentivize investment, build public support and excitement, facilitate coordination across jurisdictions, and contribute to the larger global effort to increase resilience.

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