San Francisco Bay Trail Risk Assessment and Project Prioritization Plan



SB1 Adaptation Planning Grant: Initial Case Study

Challenge: Developing plans and strategies



The East Bay Regional Park District Bay Trail Risk Assessment and Adaptation Prioritization Plan (“Project”) will build upon regional vulnerability assessments developed by Caltrans, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and other agencies to provide detailed risk assessments of the segments of the San Francisco Bay Trail (“Bay Trail”) owned and/or managed by the East Bay Regional Park District (“Park District”). Through its community and stakeholder engagement strategy, the Project will complete an Adaptation Prioritization Plan to identify implementation and funding phasing strategies to guide Park District investments and improvement projects. The Project will evaluate adaptation strategies and prioritize projects based upon the sea level rise (“SLR”) risk and timing, coupled with Project co-benefits to protect infrastructure, habitat, and provide resilient non-motorized commuter and recreational corridors. The Project begins October 2018 and a final Plan will be published February 2021.

The California Transportation Plan 2040 recommends expanding the use and safety of bike and pedestrian facilities but also identifies SLR as one of the most widely documented risks of climate change that will affect all modes of transportation. Executive Order S-13-08 mandates that local governments improve non-motorized transportation facilities and provide park and trails to underserved communities. To comply with this mandate, the Project will help preserve the Bay Trail, a popular mode of transportation that doubles as a vital outdoor recreational venue. Consequently, the Park District will continue to maintain and expand public infrastructure that improve public health and quality of life among some of the region’s disadvantaged communities. The 1989 goal of building and maintaining a 500-mile accessible public trail around the San Francisco Bay is 70% complete.

Lead Agency and Partnerships

As the lead agency, the Park District will form working partnerships and seek participation from cities, public agencies and organizations that use, manage, or own segments of the Bay Trail. These partners include: Association of Bay Area Governments, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, cities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, as well as pedestrian and bicycle advocacy organizations.


The Project Proposal accomplishes one of the goals of the Park District’s 2018 operating budget, to “Plan for Climate Change Resiliency.” One key indicator of that goal is to “conduct a vulnerability assessment of the effects of climate change on public parklands.” The proposal is driven by a need to conclusively identify the Bay Trail’s vulnerabilities to climate change, using the latest available science, and the work of other agencies and organizations. This vulnerability assessment will help prioritize the projects necessary to ensure the Bay Trail’s continued operation. The SB1 Caltrans Adaptation Planning Grant allows the Park District to prepare this Plan in a timely manner.

Engagement Process

The District will coordinate a public engagement process that provides local communities, residents, stakeholders, local public agencies and other interested parties opportunities to participate in the planning and development of the Project. The Park District commits to collaboration and transparency by responding to the community’s contributions at each step in the Project’s development. The Park District will work with the public and stakeholders to:

  • Raise awareness of the SLR projections on the Bay Trail and neighboring communities;
  • Educate the public and other organizations about the Project by making information available for download on the Park District’s website and other online communications;
  • Provide opportunities for stakeholders to participate in and collaborate on the decision-making about the Project. These opportunities for community participation will include community workshops and public meetings held in neighborhood locations

Climate Impact Area

The project will identify the system-wide climate change impact risks to multimodal transportation infrastructure by finding vulnerabilities and quantifying the impending threats to the Bay Trail. The goal of the Project is to identify measurable and implementable actions and strategies to remedy identified climate related vulnerabilities.

Funding Source

A Caltrans Adaptation Planning Grant funds the Project and the Park District’s staff time provides the local match. The Project is expected to cost approximately $450,000.

Research and Data

The Park District is using a diverse set of tools to conduct thorough research for the Project. The tools include: Adapting to Rising Tides: Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer, Safeguarding California 2018 Update, State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance 2018 Update, among others.


Defining the scope of specific adaptation responses and strategies may present challenges, given that the Park District may not own every segment of the Bay Trail studied. A proposed solution is to include jurisdictions that are adjacent to the Bay Trail in stakeholder participation forums and meetings.


The Project goals are:

  1. Identify which segments of the Bay Trail within the Park District’s jurisdiction need the most immediate attention to protect against SLR.
  2. Prioritize from a list of nature-based, implementable strategies and capital projects that will have both immediate and long-term co-benefits to the trail, shoreline, and adjacent communities.
  3. Quantify the costs associated with implementing the recommended projects and strategies.


The identified strategies may be replicated along segments of the Bay Trail that are outside of the jurisdiction of the Park District and within other communities that have infrastructure threatened by potential inundation.

The Project can form a model for the Park District and other public land managers with shoreline property for how to study SLR impacts and prioritize adaptation projects, particularly in areas where there is no Bay Trail (such as the Delta).


Additional Resources

MTC Perspective Papers

California Adaptation Planning Guide


Further Information

Chantal Alatorre, Planner, East Bay Regional Park District