Burlingame officials are scoping strategies to fend off rising waters expected along the city’s chunk of the Bayshore, and seeking input from residents wishing to discover more about sea level rise mitigation plans.
Officials are hosting a town hall discussion Wednesday, Oct. 16, examining the potential risk zones in the area east of Highway 101 and unveiling strategies for protecting the vulnerable areas.
Economic Development Director Kevin Gardiner said the meeting is designed to give community members a sense of which areas are potentially most susceptible to flooding and identifying mitigation opportunities.
“This meeting is meant to look at where are the vulnerable areas and what is the approach the city can take to respond to sea level rise,” he said.
A consultant hired by the city examined the terrain along the waterfront and highlighted low points which would be the first to be submerged by rising waters in the case of a flood.
Those areas will likely become a top priority for officials, said Gardiner, as they plot a course for developing solutions such as building or improving existing sea walls, levees or natural protection zones.
Ultimately, Gardiner said a variety of strategies will likely be required to assure mitigation measures will meet the unique demands of each zone, as the Bayshore features a diverse landscape.
“Given the geography of the area, it’s not necessarily going to be a one-size-fits-all approach or one measure to apply to the entire Bayfront,” he said.
Gardiner said officials are hopeful to spend the rest of the coming year identifying potential mitigation approaches, before turning their attention to examining ways to finance the necessary measures.
A key step in looking at the financial impacts potentially associated with combating sea level rise will be partnering with the county and following the regional effort to achieve a similar goal, said Gardiner.
The county has taken separate steps to expand the San Mateo County Flood Control District’s responsibilities to address sea level rise through a proposal to form the San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency Agency, which is aimed at facilitating coordination between jurisdictions as they set their sights on a new set of challenges for water infrastructure projects.
Given the cost of planning for high tides, intense storms and sea level rise, collaboration between jurisdictions can be an attractive feature of applications for state and federal funding, county officials have said.
For his part, Gardiner said it is too early to tell how much work along the shoreline may cost Burlingame, but officials have looked to similar mitigation efforts along the water in Foster City as a point of reference.
Last year, Foster City residents passed a $90 million bond designed to improve flood protections, as mandated by FEMA amid concerns about sea level rise. Property owners — residential, office and commercial — were expected at the time of the election to see their tax rates increase about $41 per $100,000 of assessed property value, with the average property owner paying about $270 more a year in taxes.
For his part, Gardiner said Burlingame officials have not yet discussed a specific financing strategy, but noted establishing an assessment district could be one mechanism used to raise funds for the protections.
In the immediate term though, he said officials will continue their needs assessment addressing potential infrastructure before turning their attention to financing strategies in the next couple years.
“This year, we will get our heads around the vulnerabilities and what is the approach Burlingame can look at. And the next year or two is financing and coordination with other entities and jurisdictions to see what are the opportunities to fold into a strategy with the other initiatives going on,” he said.
The community discussion about sea level rise will begin 6:30 p.m. at the Burlingame Library in the Lane Room, at 480 Primrose Road.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105