The awareness of city and county staff, community residents and other local stakeholders to the City of San Rafael’s significant vulnerability to flooding and sea level rise was heightened through the Bionic Team’s Elevate San Rafael project as part of Resilient by Design. The deep research and conceptual designs developed by the Bionic team, alongside local partners like the Canal Welcome Center, informed the City of San Rafael’s update of their Climate Action Plan. In May 2019, the City Council approved the new Climate Change Action Plan 2030 that incorporates strategies to adapt to sea level rise and other climate change impacts. The plan includes guidance such as “Adopt requirements to assess sea level rise risks on new development, infrastructure, and transit corridors.” and “Study the creation of a Bayfront overlay zone or similar that would establish standards for developing in areas subject to flooding from SLR.” Now that this foundational climate adaptation guidance is in place, the City can continue to work with local partners to raise the resources necessary to advance some of the ideas that emerged from Resilient by Design.
For example, city staff is working with leadership from the Canal District to advance resilience strategies that reduce risk to flooding and sea level rise and strengthen the community center and adjoining park that provide everything from English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to cultural events to soccer and social events as well as overflow parking at night for folks living in the neighborhood. It’s adjacent to a wetlands area that is currently being funded for design and looking for funding to build out the marsh to its original size to allow for more species habitat and shoreline protection.