Collect & Connect – Resilient South City is a proposal to create more public green space and continuous public access along South San Francisco’s Colma Creek, aiming to reduce the impacts of flooding, mitigate against sea-level rise vulnerability, restore native flora and fauna, and create more amenity and healthy lifestyle opportunities by connecting a continuous public corridor from Orange Memorial Park to a new public park at the shoreline.




Located in San Mateo County, South San Francisco is the bay’s self-proclaimed ‘industrial city’. Major freeways and rail lines link the city to the region but also divide the City and limit residents’ access to the shoreline of the Bay.


Resilient South City is a community-based design challenge aimed at strengthening the city’s resilience to sea level rise and climate change. The primary objectives of our design proposal are to: - manage flooding along Colma Creek by widening and greening the canal as well as creating a sequence of new parks - connect the community along the creek to the shoreline, between a series of active public spaces including a new waterfront pool and school - upgrade schools to become resilience hubs as well as active community open space resources (playgrounds become parks) while linking them to the creek & each other by new green streets for cycling and water management (more kids riding to school!) - extend the restoration of native plants from San Bruno mountain, down across the city’s other green spaces (parks, cemeteries and schools) and along the creek to the shoreline. The key project is the parkway connection from Orange Memorial Park to the shoreline. This will involve a sequence of new green public open spaces of varying character, linked by a continuous path for walking and cycling. Orange Park is a highly programmed sports and community hub. The new canal-side parks are a patchwork of parks to retain stormwater, dotted with playgrounds and linked by the creek cycleway.


Over the last half-century, local residents in South San Francisco have lost their historic connection to the water. Parts of the community suffer from flooding and have limited access to a shoreline blocked by industry. And, like the entire Bay Area, San Mateo County is at risk from sea level rise and seismic events. This makes San Mateo County the perfect testing ground for solutions that could unlock potential for shoreline communities around the entire Bay Area. The HASSELL+ team drew heavily on local voices and insights to ensure that the design proposal reflects the community’s needs, by creating a community centre for design and education with a focus on discussion and feedback. The former Bank of South San Francisco at 304 Grand Avenue, a 100 year-old heritage building that had been vacant for decades, was given a new life as a drop-in storefront and community space to talk about resilience and the future. Visitors listened to local experts talk about native plants, social history and equitable urban design, and viewed photographs from the South San Francisco Historical Society. Community members visited the Resilient South City storefront to learn about the project and chat with the design team, hear from community partners (San Bruno Mountain Watch, Youth Leadership Institute and the South San Francisco Historical Society) and talk to City and County officials.

The Team

The HASSELL+ team understands water. We understand designing for water, living with water and the immense social potential that waterfront places offer communities when they are connected to them. HASSELL, originating from Australia, as well as Deltares + Goudappel, originating from the Netherlands, are drawn to RbD through an acute understanding of the social, cultural, economic and ecological potential that research-led design can unlock for waterfront communities.

In partnership with our local experts: Lotus Water, Civic Edge, HATCH, Brown & Caldwell, Idyllist, and Page & Turnbull, we bring to this challenge a wealth of experience. Experience in researching, listening and engaging with communities, and designing, prototyping and delivering integrated solutions.

Next Steps

The design team will continue to work with the local community to make this vision of resilience a reality in South San Francisco and San Mateo County.
Resilient South City aims to align with local schools on higher ground to collect/treat/reuse water, create safe routes for walking/biking to school, open-up schoolyards for more community recreation, and to become better equipped as community shelter points in times of disaster.These beacons of resilience, learning and community will be connected to the Colma Creek Corridor via slow movement streets for water & cycling, creating a local network of resilience for South City and surrounding neighborhoods.