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 jurisdictions?

San Rafael models high-density living right on the water. But the residents at greatest risk are a Latino community living along the canal. In this community of renters, multiple families often share the same unit. We believe this condition demands approaches that keep housing affordable and strengthen social bonds across a community that includes many non-English-speaking residents. San Rafael’s downtown area was once almost entirely a tidal marsh that has been filled, leaving the area vulnerable to flooding, groundwater inundation, and liquefaction.

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

Tidal City
To protect downtown San Rafael from groundwater inundation and seismic risk, we propose floating neighborhoods within artificial, managed ponds. These could be built to replace conventional housing that will otherwise fail, conserving the owners’ equity and preparing for higher groundwater. Clean, excavated fill will build horizontal levees to widen the living edge of the Bay, protecting from wave energy. The result will be new habitat and parks that treat stormwater before it enters the tidally influenced ponds.

Resilient Corridors
Interstate 580, Highway 101 and almost all main streets downtown are at risk of flooding, which would affect critical transit resources, services, and economic activity across southern Marin County. If these corridors are either lidded over or elevated in key locations, they can connect neighbors, bring new jobs and create new housing protected from flooding.

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. A Geologic Hazard Abatement District could be created city-wide to organize insurance, financing, and ownership responsibilities on properties that face groundwater flooding and liquefaction risks, as well as Bay flooding. A Joint Powers Authority could be used to organize the watershed of San Rafael Bay, prioritizing restoration of baylands that grow with sediment flowing down the creek and protect the city from storms. Community land trusts can be used to maintain affordability and build shared equity.

We look forward to forming partnerships with the people who call San Rafael home. We envision a process of co-creation and co-design that connects existing infrastructure for governance and social support with the ideas described here. To activate Tidal City, block parties and clean-up events can build connections to the shore zone. To activate Resilient Corridors, members of the public can use a network of walkable watersheds. To activate REHBs, citizens can debate, assess, and play out potential outcomes through a process of hands-on governance. 
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San Rafael Bay

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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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