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San Francisco struggles to plan for flooding

A ferry in the distance in the San Francisco Bay
Nick Amoscato
Flickr / Creative Commons
San Francisco Bay

On Tuesday, a civil grand jury released a report on what it calls “San Francisco’s triple threat” — rising sea level, extreme storms, and overly saturated soil.

The report found some issues with the city's climate resilience effort.

In 2021, the Mayor’s Office created a “Climate Resilience Program” — also known as ClimateSF — to address climate change in the Bay. ClimateSF is a partnership between city and county departments, including the Planning Department and the Port of San Francisco.

But are the departments talking to each other? Apparently not, according to the grand jury report.

The report — titled “Come Hell or High Water” — says that ClimateSF is struggling to implement the projects it plans. This is partly because individual departments are siloed and don’t have a good process in place to coordinate work.

And then there’s the issue of funding. The report found that the city doesn’t know how much it’s spending on climate change efforts or how much it will need. And it says the city is paying for damage when poor wastewater drainage leads to flooding, which could be avoided.

Finally, the civil grand jury found that the city needs to do a better job talking to residents about the impact of climate change, specifically which areas are most likely to flood.

Julia is an audio and print journalist covering education, health, and climate in the Bay Area.