With 74 percent of voters in support, Proposition D won big in November's election. The passing of the measure, which allows for a massive increase in the allowable height for the future Mission Rock development, sets the stage for an estimated $1.6 billion development along San Francisco's waterfront. It does not, however, address what is perhaps one of the biggest questions looming over the high-density development: what happens to the project when sea levels rise?
The future of the Mission Rock site is very questionable given that it's one of the lowest-lying spots in the city, and in the Mission Bay neighborhood. As noted in a new report by the San Francisco Public Press, a potential rise in sea level, and the average height of tides, could spell potential disaster for the Pier 48 project.
The sponsors behind the development, the San Francisco Giants, are not oblivious to the seeming inevitability that the low-lying areas of San Francisco will be increasingly prone to repeated flooding, and the San Francisco Public Press notes that they have some plans in place to address the matter.
"The plan is to raise the grade of the land by several feet to postpone flooding due to sea level rise by several decades," states the Press. "Another part of the so-called adaptive management strategy would be to raise money through yearly neighborhood taxes to pay for costly protective fixes in the future."
However, as the Press notes, this strategy would be insufficient to combat a potential 8-foot storm surge that some climate change models put in the realm of possibility.
So where does that put the potential 240 foot development with a mandated 40 percent below-market-rate units?
What do the Giants think about all of this? In October, San Francisco Giants President Larry Baer said of the then-unapproved project to the San Francisco Chronicle that “[we] think we have a proposal that really speaks to the issues of the city today, in real time.”
While the development may go toward addressing the important issue of the Bay Area's affordable housing shortage, it won't do anyone any good if 50 years from now it's deluged with sea water on a regular basis.
It seems that the Giants, like the rest of San Francisco, are just going to have to figure out a way to deal with it.