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Controversial SF Bay Development Plan Dead in the Water — For Now

Saltworks, in Redwood City, would have built thousands of homes in salt ponds on the Bay

Lauren Sommer/KQED

Salt ponds in Redwood City where the new Saltworks development is proposed.

The low-lying land along the Bay in Redwood City has been the center of a climate controversy: should the salt ponds that have been producing salt for Cargill for decades be turned into housing, or back into wetlands? Supporters of the development point out that Silicon Valley needs more housing. Supporters of the wetlands respond, birds need a place to land, too — plus, the wetlands will provide a much-needed buffer as the sea level rises.

Now, the fight is on hold: DMB Associates, the developer that is working with Cargill on a plan to turn nearly 1,500 acres of salt ponds into Saltworks, has officially withdrawn its application from the City Council of Redwood City. That’s after an ad hoc subcommittee of the council recommended that the application be denied at this coming Monday’s meeting.
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New List Highlights California’s Birds Most Threatened by Climate Change

Shorebirds, especially, are imperiled by rising seas and habitat loss

Molly Samuel

Birds like the Black Oystercatcher that live along the shoreline are threatened by rising sea levels.

More than one hundred species of California’s birds are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Scientists at the California Department of Fish and Game and PRBO Conservation Science examined nearly 400 species and subspecies for a study, released today. Of those, 128 are at risk.

San Francisco Bay is home to the majority of the most vulnerable birds. “That’s primarily because of sea level rise and also because there are already so many imperiled species that use that habitat in the bay,” says Tom Gardali, an ecologist is PRBO Conservation Science.

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Climate Adaptation and Unintended Consequences

Radio documentary explores the social and economic impacts of adapting to climate change

Rising seas will irrevocably change life near the San Francisco Bay. That’s the premise of RISE: Climate Change and Coastal Communities, a three-part documentary by independent producer Claire Schoen. The final part, “Chuey’s Story,” airs this evening at 8 pm on KQED 88.5 FM.

By Claire Schoen

Jan Sturmann

Chuey Cazares works as a fisherman out of the South Bay town of Alviso. Adapting to climate change may save his town, but it's having unintended consequences for his livelihood.

There’s an old adage that goes something like this: “The human capacity to create technology exceeds our capacity to understand its impact.”

Lots of people have referred to this idea, Einstein perhaps most famously when he said, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Splitting the atom certainly brought us the promise of unlimited energy to run industry and military might to protect the world from Hitler. It also brought us a nuclear North Korea and Fukushima.

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Sounding the Waters: Is the Bay Area Prepared for Sea Level Rise?

A new documentary attempts to find the answer

Sea level rise will irrevocably change life near the San Francisco Bay. That’s the premise of RISE: Climate Change and Coastal Communities, a documentary that starts airing this week on KQED Public Radio. Producer Claire Schoen sets the stage on a personal note.

Jan Sturmann

Climate scientists predict that sea level rise and extreme weather will cause flooding of San Francisco's Financial District by 2050.

By Claire Schoen

“Mom, can you please can it with the climate change lecture  – just for once,” my children complained. At ages 22 and 26, my politically correct, Berkeley-raised kids are well educated in all things scientific and political. But… “Enough already,” they cry.

And I confess that their complaint has some validity: I can bring up the topic of climate change in pretty much any conversation.

But really, what other topic is there?

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Sea Level Rise Laps at Developers’ Feet

 


Google Maps image of the Bay Area from Cal-Adapt’s online interactive sea level rise tool.

Developers building on the shore of San Francisco Bay will now have to consider climate change in their plans.

Despite a unanimous vote on Thursday by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), it hasn’t been easy planning process for the state agency that regulates development along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The state agency approved a first-of-its kind policy that makes sea level rise part of regional planning decisions.

“It’s kind of like childbirth,” said Will Travis, the Executive Director of the commission.

“It wasn’t an easy thing to get done,” he said. “Some didn’t even believe that climate change was happening, and some weren’t aware of the great impact that sea level rise will have the Bay Area.” Continue reading

Rough Waters for Sea Level Rise Planning

Salt ponds in Redwood City where the new Saltworks development is proposed. Photo: Lauren Sommer.

What do Bay Area airports and some big Silicon Valley companies have in common? They sit right on the edge of San Francisco Bay, where sea level rise is expected to have a big impact by the end of the century.

That may seem far in the future, but state agencies are preparing for climate change now by writing new rules for construction along the bay’s shoreline. As you can imagine, developers and environmentalists aren’t exactly seeing eye to eye.

That’s evident on a patch of land at the edge of the bay in Redwood City. For more than a century, it’s been home to one thing: salt. Continue reading