Sea Level Rise

Palo Alto Baylands flooded from king tide event. The State of California anticipates that relative sea level rise projections stemming from greenhouse gas emissions and related climate change pose significant economic, environmental and social risks to communities along the San Francisco Bay Shoreline, including the City of Palo Alto. Research shows that these projections may worsen if greenhouse gas emission trajectories continue unabated. Greenhouse gases and thermal expansion are the primary cause of Antarctic and Greenland ice melt which in turn are the primary source of sea level rise globally and in San Francisco Bay. San Francisco Bay sea level rise projections range between 1-3’ in 2050, and 3.4’ to more than 10’ in 2100.

To prepare for rising tides in the years ahead, the City of Palo Alto City Council adopted a Sea Level Rise Adaptation Policy in March 2019 which bridges the high-altitude general policy statements in various City plans (such as the Comprehensive Plan and sea level rise components of the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan) to an eventual nuts-and-bolt Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan and timeline which staff aims to complete by December 2021. Project milestones are listed below. 

Sea Level Rise Plan Development Timeline and Milestones

2020

  • Begin Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment and groundwater study

Winter 2021

  • Complete Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

2022

  • Community meetings to develop Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan
  • California Environmental Quality Act review and completion 
 2023
  • Bring Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan to City Council for approval

Presentations

January 13, 2022 webinar Wildfires and Sea Level Rise City of Palo Alto Sustainability Ad Hoc Committee Meeting (Sea Level Rise starts at  1:22:51).

September 9, 2020 Zoom Webinar on City of Palo Alto Sea Level Rise Projects and Planning Efforts

For more information on the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan webinar series, visit our Community Engagement webpage. 

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