At the recent State Lands Commission (SLC) meeting, Committee for Green Foothills and other environmental groups made the case for open space in the face of sea level rise on the San Francisco Bay, particularly along the Burlingame Baylands, where requests for proposals have attracted the interest of several hotel developers as well as environmental groups.
We spoke of $1.3 billion in unprotected assets in Burlingame, the city’s and state’s liability in the face of sea level rise, and the environmental benefits of open space on the Bay. We asked the SLC to prioritize all open space proposals due to the benefits of green infrastructure on the shoreline in the face of rising tides. While this prompted the Commissioners to question their staff about prioritizing open space proposals as part of the Request for Proposals (RFP) process, it ultimately was not included as part of the Commissioners’ direction to Staff.
The staff report did recommend requiring that all proposals for the site explain “how the project will adapt to climate change and sea-level rise based on the projections…through the year 2100.” Committee for Green Foothills is strategically preparing for the release of the Request for Proposals.
So, what’s next? Qualified applicants will be placing bids for the right to develop the bayfront property; we expect at least one hotel developer, and know that the open space proposal will also still be on the table. We expect a private donor to submit a proposal for 100% open space in the form of a natural resource park. The San Mateo Resource Conservation District has agreed to assist this potential project with financial and technical knowledge for restoring wetlands and marshlands.
As more and more research indicates that sponge-like green infrastructure at the edge of the Bay is 2 – 5 times more beneficial for humans and the environment in the face of sea level rise, we are continuing to advocate for open space at this site. Thank you to Leslie Flint of Sequoia Audubon, Rick Johnson from Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, Ed Larenas of Surfrider and five other amazing CGF members who ventured all the way to Sacramento to make comments at the Commission meeting.