San Francisco Sea Level Rise Action Plan

Led by San Francisco Planning and San Francisco Public Works, the Sea Level Rise Action Plan describes the objectives for future sea level rise and coastal flooding planning and mitigation in the City and County of San Francisco, California. The plan summarizes current climate science, relevant policies and regulations, and vulnerability and risk assessments conducted to date; provides a roadmap with both short-term and long-term sea level rise adaptation actions; and establishes a framework for further assessment, adaptation planning, and implementation. 

Sea level rise assessments utilized for the plan have demonstrated that without adaptation measures, the frequency of temporary flooding will increase with rising seas in low-lying Bayshore areas, until permanent inundation is reached. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) assets, including runways, taxiways, terminal buildings, emergency facilities, and tenant operation centers, are currently vulnerable to flooding from extreme storm events - and sea level rise will also increase the frequency of these events and intensify the severity of flooding at SFO.

Chapter 3 on Adaptation Strategy Development includes adaptation planning efforts already underway along the San Francisco Bayshore with representative success stories for sea level rise adaptation including:

  • the Ocean Beach Master Plan that incorporates all 3 strategies of accommodate, protect, and retreat
  • Crane Cove Public Park, Port of SF and Pier 70 Special Use District accommodation practices
  • Treasure Island adaptive management
  • India Basin Waterfront design with living shorelines
  • San Francisco International Airport protection measures
  • Self rising flood walls as permanent protective barriers in New York City and Houston

Projects addressing SLR in San Francisco will need to coordinate with multiple property owners and jurisdictional agencies, and comply with regulations at local, State, and federal levels. Chapter 4 on the area’s Regulatory Framework details some of the public policy around climate change, flood risk, and sea level rise at all levels of governance.

The current and future Priority Actions for sea level rise adaptation in San Francisco are outlined in the Next Steps chapter.  Some example recommendations from the Priority Actions of 2016-2017 are to:

  • Model interactions between rainfall, SLR, coastal flooding, and urban/ stormwater flooding
  • Complete outstanding vulnerability assessments for additional asset types, such as ground transportation and buildings and properties.
  • Develop a coordinated strategy for tracking the response to, and costs of, flooding events to inform accurate cost/ benefit analyses of potential risk reduction strategies

Sea level rise Priority Actions for 2017-2018 are detailed also - with a focus on completing the comprehensive city-wide Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan. As soon as the most high risk shoreline assets have been identified, SF intends to fast track specific plans for these assets will so that immediate opportunities for intervention are not lost. 


Publication Date: March 2016

Related Organizations:

  • San Francisco Planning Department
  • City and County of San Francisco, California
  • San Francisco Department of Public Works


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan
  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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