Coalescing as a Region Around Sea Level Rise Response

by | Jul 9, 2021

Illustration in bright colors showing people of diverse cultures and ages holding up Bay Area cities and bridges on a platform.

Art: Sophia Zaleski

Regional leaders approved a joint platform of nine actions and 21 tasks this June aimed at galvanizing the Bay Area into collaboration on sea level rise adaptation. Actions range from rooting planning in communities to raising more money for resilience and making the best local science and technical support accessible to all. The platform also “centers the most vulnerable” – 28,000 disadvantaged people in the future flood zone and wildlife in drowning wetlands. Leaders approving the platform commended the effort to address so many governance challenges and channel so many diverse opinions: “Corralling this to where it is today quite a feat,” said the Bay Area Council’s Adrian Covert; “This document gets the balance between local responsibility and the regional role of a catalyst and supporting force pretty darn right, ” added Marin County’s  Jack Liebster; “What is a platform? It is something to stand on moving forward,” summed up Mark Lubell of UC Davis.

The platform walks “hand-in-hand” in terms of sea level rise adaptation with another major regional planning document responding to climate change, Plan Bay Area, according to BCDC’s Jessica Fain. While in the past, Plan Bay Area focused more on where to locate housing and transit hubs, the latest version from the region’s government planners (MTC-ABAG) raises some deeper questions about where we’re at: “Does the region strategically move from isolation and fear into a future that is more affordable, diverse, connected, healthy and vibrant for every Bay Area resident, or do we continue down a path of inequality?” 


Bay-Adapt Joint Platform

 First published in RARA Review, July 2021.

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About The Author

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

is KneeDeep’s managing editor. She is a Bay Area environmental writer and editor and co-author of a Natural History of San Francisco Bay (UC Press 2011). For the last decade, she’s been reporting on innovations in climate adaptation on the bayshore (Bay Nature). She is also an occasional essayist for the San Francisco Chronicle. In other lives, she has been a vintner, soccer mom, and waitress. She lives in San Francisco close to the Bay with her architect husband Paul Okamoto.