City & County

Silicon Valley Reboots on Adaptation Work

by | Sep 25, 2021

Photo of buildings and people including the hotel valencia in downtown San Jose.

Santana Row in downtown San Jose. Photo: Eric Fredericks, Creative Commons

With the aid of a $150,000 grant from the National Fish Wildlife Foundation, Santa Clara County embarked on a substantial new resilience planning effort this summer. In June the county’s Office of Sustainability convened the first meeting of the County Climate Collaborative, bringing together cities, CBOs and other key partners to identify adaptation and resilience priorities.

“Climate change is not a local problem,” says project lead Magdalena Sta Maria. “The collaborative is meant to help us figure out how to move as a region, and give cities a chance to chime in on what they think should be a priority based on their communities.”

The collaborative will help develop the Santa Clara County Resiliency Strategy for sea level rise and flooding, which will prioritize protecting ecosystems as well as communities. In August the county contracted with Blue Point Planning to develop the strategy, together with the Farallon Strategies and San Francisco Estuary institute. The strategy is due by the end of 2022; after that, says Sta Maria, the hope is to continue the collaborative, with working groups tackling different priority areas such as wildfire and transportation.

Both the climate collaborative and the resilience strategy will be aided by an updated version of Silicon Valley 2.0, a climate change preparedness decision-support tool that models future climate change impacts on county assets and the resulting financial costs. “Originally the tool was focused just on hard assets, not people assets,” says Sta Maria. “Now we are adding community vulnerabilities and health impacts,” as well as updating the underlying data to reflect more recent climate change projections. The update is expected to be complete in early 2022.

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About The Author

Cariad Hayes Thronson

reports on legal and political issues. She has served on the staffs of several national publications and is a long-time contributor to Estuary News. She lives in San Mateo with her husband and two children.