California predicts that sea levels will rise by as much as 66 inches by 2100. Here, a breakdown of two proposed waterfront developments that are aggressively planning for maximum inundation.

Pier 70
Forest City with the Port of San Francisco

What: A new urban waterfront district on 28 acres at one of the city's former shipbuilding sites, with new housing, offices, affordable artists' space, waterfront parks along 1,380 feet of shoreline, and rehabbed historic buildings, including a makers' market hall.

Status: In environmental review, with earliest possible approval this summer.

Maximum sea level rise the design can accommodate: 66 inches by 2100.

Strategy: Use dirt fill to raise the grade of the site by about 4 feet near the water and up to 9 or 10 feet at the highest point.


Most dramatic measure: Raising the historic Building 12—site of the future market hall—by eight to nine feet. Crews will put jacks under each of the structure's roughly 30 steel columns and raise them all at the same time in a feet that will, all told, cost about $5 million.

Most inspired move: The shoreline can retreat. With design help from James Corner Field Operations and infrastructure experts Moffatt & Nichol, the waterfront will include an informal path and a seating terrace. But there will still be room on higher land to establish a new path along the water.

What happens in the worst-case scenario: Water inundates the seating terrace. You—or rather, your great-grandkids—will just have to sit a little farther back.


Lamar Anderson
San Francisco Magazine
April 2017