East Palo Alto Baylands


Living in the Edge
Our research shows that the key adaptation challenges for the Bay Area are groundwater flooding, vulnerable transportation corridors, and jurisdictional barriers to cooperation. Right now, we’re living on the edge of risk. We believe the solutions to the Bay Area’s social and environmental challenges will come from living in the edge. How can we design a shore zone that allows people to live safely with higher water levels? How can we protect regional mobility and enhance local connectivity? How can we share power, resources and responsibilities across jurisdictional boundaries?

East Palo Alto (EPA) is one of the last locations of affordable housing in Silicon Valley. Though EPA is a levee-protected community fringed by tidal wetlands, it is vulnerable to groundwater flooding. EPA sits at the nexus of a stressed transit network, leading to a high reliance on automobile transit to get around. EPA is also home to a community that has great cultural, ethnic, and language diversity. The neighborhood is highly vulnerable to the escalating cost of housing and infrastructure disinvestment, despite the wealth of resources among neighboring tech companies.

Our three design concepts can work together at multiple scales to address these issues.

Tidal City
To protect cities from groundwater inundation and seismic risk, we propose floating neighborhoods within artificial, managed ponds. The ponds capture high tides and hold that water to support pre-fabricated floating homes on shared decks. Excavated material can be used to sustain existing wetlands around the Bay edge and create new habitats. Clean, excavated fill can be used to build horizontal levees to raise and widen the living edge of the Bay.

Resilient Corridors
Improving our resilience gives us an important opportunity to rethink transportation to help people access jobs and schools and re-connect recreational trails and wildlife corridors to the Bay. There’s an opportunity in EPA to draw in public transit through the Dumbarton Rail Corridor, BRT, and ferry service. In EPA, access to Highway 101 and the Dumbarton Bridge for transit and cars is critical, as well as protecting low-lying roadways within the city. Parts of Highway 101 could be lidded over or elevated to reconnect EPA to upland areas, and key downtown streets can be raised above flood levels.

Resilient Equity Hubs (REHBs)
REHBs are alliances and actual organizational changes that empower people to adapt in place. They can link public infrastructure, Bayland restoration, and affordable housing. Bundling governance powers differently can allow a process of incremental change driven by communities while stewarding a long-term vision for something like a Tidal City with a cooperative ownership model. REHBs will enable residents to stay where they are, even as the tides rise, building social and economic resilience by creating shared equity.

We look forward to forming genuine partnerships with groups and residents in East Palo Alto. We envision a process of co-creation that connects resilience to the current concerns of the residents, using the ideas described here.

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East Palo Alto Baylands

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The All Bay Collective

We are the All Bay Collective (ABC): a diverse group of locally based/globally experienced professionals, academics, students, and policy makers. We have come together to fuse science, design excellence, academic leadership, community outreach, and business innovation to make our Bay Area more responsive to the people who live here and sensitive to the environments we share.

Our partnership signifies a creative synergy that ignites academic discovery and research to professional practice. Together we have an extensive record working closely with cities and communities on climate issues...

We are the All Bay Collective (ABC): a diverse group of locally based/globally experienced professionals, academics, students, and policy makers. We have come together to fuse science, design excellence, academic leadership, community outreach, and business innovation to make our Bay Area more responsive to the people who live here and sensitive to the environments we share.

Our partnership signifies a creative synergy that ignites academic discovery and research to professional practice. Together we have an extensive record working closely with cities and communities on climate issues in the Bay Area and around the world. A unique piece of our approach is to create teaching, learning, and outreach programs for the fall and spring semesters of 2017/2018 at the UC Berkeley and the California College of the Arts coinciding with the research and the design phases of the Challenge. We believe an important benefit of the Challenge is the ability to deliver a lasting educational legacy of well‐trained students who will become the next generation of planning and design professionals with a strong foundation in resilience.

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