The low-lying area of Burlingame’s waterfront is exposed to flood risks and will face greater flood hazards in the future due to the rising sea level, prompting an assessment of the City’s growing hazards and adaptation strategies to counter these hazards.

Why does this project matter?

Results from the 2018 San Mateo County (SMC) Sea Change Vulnerability Assessment indicate that the eastern portion of the city is susceptible to flooding from sea-level rise, with most land already below the FEMA base flood elevation. The City is pursuing adaptation strategies that reflects the specific values of the community and their shoreline. These solutions will be more resilient, have more community buy-in, and can better adapt to changing conditions in an uncertain future.

What is ESA doing to help?

ESA prepared a risk-informed decision-support framework that included a vision, goals, and objectives of adaptation planning for the City, including developing screening and evaluation criteria.

The team developed a suite of strategies for the City of Burlingame and the local community to review, offering a range of multi-benefit strategies, including a nature-based approach. ESA then evaluated the adaptation concepts with established screening criteria to see how each would perform. The City selected the strategies most appropriate for each stretch of shoreline and ESA provided illustrations to show the community and the City what future adaptation concepts could look in the Burlingame context.

The team’s public outreach plan aimed to educate and engage with key stakeholders and adjoining agencies on the risks and vulnerabilities from sea-level rise and how they can participate in creating a resilient Burlingame. Through a variety of public meetings and communication methods, ESA’s approach offered clarity, generated enthusiasm for concepts, and dispelled fears about the unknowns, allowing the City to advance its strategies for protecting their shoreline and their constituents.

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