Policies for a Rising Bay Project

The goal of the Policies for a Rising Bay Project is to:

Collaboratively evaluate BCDC’s fill policies in light of sea level rise and develop guidance for the Commission, staff and project proponents to promote shoreline resilience

BCDC was created in 1965 to address a shrinking San Francisco Bay due to haphazard filling and to increase shoreline public access. BCDC policies restrict development in the Bay to water-oriented uses, require mitigation for any Bay fill, and ensure projects in the Bay and along the shoreline include public access. BCDC has succeeded and now the Bay is larger than it was in 1965 due to limited in-Bay development, mitigation involving fill removal, and Bay restoration. The Bay’s natural resources are also more protected and the shoreline more publicly accessible.

Today, we know the Bay is getting larger due to sea level rise, presenting new challenges. Some flood protection strategies may require larger amounts of Bay fill than BCDC has ever permitted. In some areas, conventional shoreline protection projects may be the only option, but may result in harmful effects to surrounding communities and ecosystems. Since the Bay is changing in unanticipated ways, we need to formulate adaptation strategies that allow fill where appropriate, allow the Bay to claim upland areas, and ensure that our shoreline remains public and all Bay Area residents are protected from flooding.

A key element of the project has been to engage representatives from local, state, and federal agencies as well as environmental, economic, and equity organizations to serve on a Steering Committee to ensure that a broad range of values and expertise are reflected in the policy analysis.

The Policies for a Rising Bay project is part of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s climate change program, which involves building the region’s capacity to plan for sea level rise and ensuring that the Commission’s laws and policies support and encourage appropriate resilience and adaptation.

NOTE: that the Commission Bay Fill Policies Working Group meetings are open to the public.

Policies for a Rising Bay
Policies for a Rising Bay Final Report
Download the report (PDF) for the full policy analysis and list of suggested policy options.

Policy Analysis Steps

Step 1: Project Scope

Form Steering Committee to share diverse perspectives with staff

Step 2: Policy Analysis

Investigate the problem - BCDC's Bay fill laws and policies may hinder shoreline adaptation strategies

Identify the opportunities and constraints in the McAteer-Petris Act and the Bay Plan.

Step 3: Case Studies

Analyze hypothetical adaptation project proposals with existing policies

Refine policy issues related to current interpretations and statutory conflicts

Step 4: Solution Analysis

Policies for a Rising Bay Final Report

This project was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Project of Special Merit Competition and will be completed by June 2016.