Jan. 27-29: Helping neighborhoods adapt to climate change

SAN FRANCISCO – Five public, community workshops to help some San Francisco neighborhoods adapt to sea level rising, flooding and drought will be hosted by the Washington State University Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative Jan. 27-29.

Sessions will be 3-6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, and 9 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 and 29, at the Progressive Slovenian Home, a co-sponsor of the events.

To RSVP for a workshop, visit http://www.GreenBenefit.org/workshop or send an email to hope.rising@wsu.edu. More information about the WSU initiative can be found at http://www.waterurbanism.net. To support the initiative with donations, go to https://secure.wsu.edu/give/default.aspx?fund=7651. Read about earlier Seattle-area workshops at https://archive.news.wsu.edu/2016/09/14/sept-22-24-public-invited-help-plan-design-sea-level-rise/.

Involving young people in their future

Excerpts from Rising’s upcoming book on adaptive water urbanism. Similar form-based codes will be created as design game cards to be located on maps during workshops. (Click to view larger)

Workshops will include design game tables where high school and college students can work on solutions with community members, stakeholders, design professionals and experts from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, City of San Francisco’s Public Works and Planning departments and the city’s sea level rise resilience program.

“Climate adaptation has not been addressed by our standard high school and college curriculum,” said Hope Hui Rising, WSU assistant professor of landscape architecture and leader of the initiative. “These hands-on education workshops are intended to empower our younger generation to be change leaders by putting their future survival in their hands.”

During the workshops, a community-owned utility system will be tested as a way to help fund climate resiliency measures while creating welcoming public spaces that benefit the environment.

Green Benefit District a first

The workshops focus on San Francisco’s Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefit District. The first of its kind, the GBD is a special taxing district created by voters to fund public amenity and green infrastructure projects.

The district experiences flooding and sewage backup when storms coincide with especially high tides. Neighborhoods face increased flooding, toxic contamination and health threats from climate change impacts, Rising said.

“Rising San Francisco Bay water can speed up the release of toxics and cause sewage to back up into people’s homes and streets in Dogpatch,” she said. “Raising waterfront edges is likely to create a bathtub effect in Dogpatch to increase inland flooding risks.”

Reclaimed land, open spaces

Dogpatch’s sewage system was designed to accommodate up to three hours of rain from small storms that used to occur every five years, but “climate change will bring more sustained droughts, and intense storms that used to happen only every 100 years will happen more frequently,” said Rising.

“Climate-proofing Dogpatch requires solutions from both within and outside of the benefit district,” said Rising. “For example, advancing into the bay with a super levee and a park built on the polder, or reclaimed land, to host amphibious and floating developments may be a win-win solution for both developers and existing residents.

“That’s because waterfront properties can be fully cleaned up to host more livable and affordable developments with more open spaces,” she said. “These open spaces, along with the polder park, will help alleviate the compounding effects of coastal, river and inland flooding.”

WSU students assist with workshops

Six WSU students from Rising’s junior landscape architecture studio will take part in the workshops with help from Alaska Airlines’ Imagine Tomorrow Travel Awards for the Itron Food, Energy and Water Nexus, the Biofuels Challenge and the McKinstry Built Environment Challenge.

Eight WSU students in architecture, civil and environmental engineering and environmental sciences will provide input through an experiential course called Rainworks Challenge, led by Rising.

The WSU Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative combines teaching, research and outreach to bring cutting-edge science into ecosystem-based urban design interventions, helping communities adapt to climate change impacts including sea level rise, drought and recurring flooding.


News media contact:
Hope Hui Rising, WSU School of Design + Construction, 503-962-0220, hope.rising@wsu.edu