example 3

Describe the site location:

This airport site encompasses over 2,500 acres and borders the San Francisco Bay on its southern, eastern, and northern sides. Its longest commercial runway on the northern side was constructed on bay fill in the 1950s. The airport property is organized into two distinct facility areas: South Field and North Field. Surrounding the airport is a low-density residential development, while land along the southern end of the airport contains industrial land uses and an public access open space and bay trails. Some natural areas exist around the airport, such as tidal flats and mudflats adjacent to the residential area.


What would make this site a good fit for the design challenge?

With the mid-century projection of 16 inches of sea level rise, the entirety of the airport would be exposed to the daily high tide. Inundation depths range from a low of approximately 1 foot at a maintenance facility to a high of over 5 feet at the commercial airfield runways and taxiways. During a storm events, inundation levels could become significantly higher. Some of the airport’s facilities are located at a lower elevation adjacent areas currently within the daily tidal range, and are therefore more vulnerable to wind wave. Currently, these assets are not exposed to flooding due to protective structures such as tide gates and levees, but when subjected to storm event flooding, it is possible that wind waves will overtop these protective structures, causing even greater amounts of inundation. In storm events, every facility at the airport may be flooded up to several feet.


What are the potential vulnerabilities that threaten the site?

The potential vulnerabilities that threaten this site include flooding, sea level rise, storm surge and critical infrastructure.


Do you know who owns or controls this land?

This airport site is owned and operated by the City’s Port, which is an autonomous department of this Bay Area City. The Port is governed by a Board of Port Commissioners, nominated by the mayor and appointed by a vote of the City Council. The Port manages property stretching along 10 miles of the northern shore of San Francisco Bay.


What’s threatened at this site (i.e. homes, highways, public transportation, wildlife habitat, recreational areas)?

Wildlife habitats, infrastructure including the airport, port properties, transportation, highways and low-density residential neighborhoods are the main elements threatened at this site.


What local partners would need to be involved for it to be successful; what has their involvement been to date?

Necessary local partners include the local city planning commission and port authority, airport, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Amtrak, CalTrans, Coastal Conservancy, BCDC, and local citizens. Most of these partners have been involved in relevant efforts focused on sea level rise adaptation measures for this large of an area.


What local plans exist or are underway in this area?

Relevant projects known are the Adapting to Rising Tides project by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), a USGS report on liquefaction for the area, and the Airport Master Plan.