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The South Bay Sponge

The Team

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The Field Operations Team is a collaboration led by James Corner Field Operations.

Partners include Acterra, Andrea Baker Consulting, H.T. Harvey & Associates, Moffatt & Nichol, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, The Bay Institute, James Lima Planning and Design, SeArc-ECOncrete, Adventure Pictures, and Playhou.se Animation.

The team’s approach to outreach and engagement in the South Bay is ‘Come one, come all!” They set out to listen to, learn from, and collaborate with any and all agencies working on projects related to sea-level rise or to bayfront planning in general, as well as any and all residents that we could welcome into our process.

South Bay Sponge active stakeholders include: Acterra, California Coastal Conservancy, Citizens Committee To Complete The Refuge, City of East Palo Alto, City of Palo Alto, City of Sunnyvale, East Palo Alto Residents, East Palo Alto Residents, EPA Phoenix Academy, Google, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, Mountain View Residents, Mid-Pen Regional Open Space District, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), NASA, Northern California Grantmakers, Palo Alto Residents, San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, San Mateo County Office of Sustainability, Santa Clara County Office Of Sustainability, Santa Clara Valley Water District, SFEI, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, Stanford Univ. Sustainable Urban Systems Initiative, Sunnyvale Residents, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and many others!

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Background

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The South Bay and Silicon Valley include some of the lowest-lying and most vulnerable communities to sea level rise in the Bay Area.

At the same time, these areas are growing rapidly without big plans for increasing housing, transit connectivity, or cooperation between jurisdictions. Any effort for resiliency in the South Bay must consider these vulnerabilities. Luckily, Silicon Valley is a global center of innovation. Any innovations in the global effort to address climate change are poised to happen here!

The South Bay Sponge is big, ambitious, complex and seemingly impossible to implement. The level of cooperation required across jurisdictions is unprecedented. However, the cooperation involved is necessary. Without a cohesive, multi-jurisdictional solution - massive financial, infrastructural, ecological and human losses will occur and reoccur - and the most vulnerable of South Bay communities, East Palo Alto, will be left behind.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Proposal

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The South Bay Sponge is a new framework for resilience that thoughtfully imagines new possibilities for climate adaptation in the South Bay.

Specifically, proposed interventions are those that can grow in scale, incentivize investment, build public support and excitement, facilitate coordination across jurisdictions, and contribute to the larger effort to increase resilience in the Bay Area. Each municipality would enter a collaborative agreement to define how the region messages, deliberates, prioritizes, acquires funds and implements multi-benefit resiliency projects. Significant additional funds are required for continuous protection across the region and significant coordination is required to make it all happen.

The ‘Sponge’ is green infrastructure on a large-scale: new absorptive landscapes for collecting, filtering and dispersing flood waters during storm events. The Sponges are also diverse eco-tones, designed with topographic variation to support a range of ecological conditions from ponds, to marshlands, to transitional and seasonal wetlands, to floodable parks and green spaces at higher elevations alongside new and existing neighborhoods and development.

In this way, the South Bay Sponge becomes the idea, the framework and the motivation for a new form of cooperative planning for a more resilient South Bay.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Next Steps

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

There are a variety of ways in which the South Bay Sponge project might continue in the near term.

The team has received enormous support from all stakeholders involved and has had a remarkably successful public engagement process that is a model for messaging, educating and inspiring a broader public. In any scenario, however, specific funding sources would be needed to support further work, whether for continuing the public engagement and education efforts; for continuing project planning and feasibility assessments; for the preparation of a more detailed and implementable pilot project; or, to identify further sources of capital funding.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge