Metropolitan Transportation Commission: Accelerating Implementation of Local and Regional Resilience to Climate Change



SB1 Adaptation Planning Grant: Initial Case Study

Challenge: Developing plans and strategies



This project has two main objectives in addressing the San Francisco Bay Area’s near-term hazards and long-term impacts from sea level rise, flooding, and other threats to the transportation system, to the health of natural systems, and to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities:

1) Advance progress on two multi-benefit projects that serve to illustrate new approaches to governance, financing, planning, and design meet 21st century challenges of sea level rise and flooding;

2)  Complete an adaptation implementation roadmap for each project that includes roles and responsibilities for participating stakeholders from the local, regional, state and federal levels, and that informs new ways of working at the institutional level.

This project will include collaboration with local partners from socio-economically vulnerable communities. The findings will be grounded in local knowledge and expertise and will be focused on providing multi-benefits to address a range of challenges communities face and open up new opportunities for social, environmental and economic improvements. The two geographically-focused multi-benefit projects will explore innovative design approaches to managing flooding, sea level rise and seismic risks, while also improving the relationship between the built and natural environment.

The project started in May 2018 and will conclude in May 2020. Deliverables include advanced finance strategies for each project, governance recommendations for how to best support multi-year, cross-jurisdiction, cross-sector and multi-benefit projects, and an Adaptation and Implementation Roadmap.

This project advances state goals and policies by creating actionable adaptation projects developed out of an inclusive, stakeholder-driven process that represents vulnerable and disadvantaged at-risk communities (EO B-30-15; California Transportation Plan 2400 Vision). The project will also support sea level rise planning, consistent with Safeguarding California and EO S-13-08. By supporting design of projects to adapt transportation infrastructure to sea level rise, the project supports the 2017 RTP Guidelines by aiding MTC’s mandate to address climate change adaptation in its transportation planning. This grant will specifically address the climate change, equitable communities, and economic development considerations of the 2017 General Plan Guidelines and exceeds the recommendations regarding community engagement and outreach recommendations.

Lead Agency and Partnerships

Lead Agency: Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)

Sub-Applicants:  Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC), San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and the California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC).


The SB1 grant opportunity coincides well with regional-scale efforts underway, including the Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Bay Area project and the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge. These efforts provide a wealth of relationships, lessons learned, and momentum that will benefit the project site selection process and set the projects that emerge up for success.      

ART Bay Area comprises a regional scale vulnerability assessment of key Bay Area infrastructure and of the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities that will help provide a ‘menu’ of appropriate adaptation strategies to accomplish multi-benefit outcomes for transportation assets, urban growth areas, and natural resources. The Resilient by Design (RbD) Bay Area Challenge is a yearlong multidisciplinary design challenge that helped to incubate several site-specific, community-driven and multi-benefit solutions for flooding, sea level rise and seismic risks.  

Both ART Bay Area and RbD cultivated a strong network of technical expertise and partnerships with leading organizations such as the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), SPUR, UC Berkeley and the Natural Capital Project (Stanford University, Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, Nature Conservancy), to inform vulnerability assessment, adaptation planning strategies, and potential design and implementation. The project partners are also coordinating with other SB1 awardees in the Bay Area (e.g. San Mateo County, BART, MTC Dumbarton Bridge), to align efforts as best we can and identify areas for collaboration on shared outcomes.

Engagement Process

Understanding the vulnerabilities of community members involves identifying characteristics of individuals and households that affect their ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a flood or other major hazard event. In addition to CalEnviroScreen, MTC, BCDC, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District have developed methodologies for identifying and mapping our most vulnerable and socio-economically disadvantaged communities that experience above normal exposure to toxic air, flooding and sea level rise and other hazards. The State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) and ABAG worked with environmental justice representatives on the regional San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority’s Advisory Committee to draft an innovative definition of disadvantaged communities that prioritizes those who are historically underrepresented in environmental policymaking and/or projects, bear a disproportionate environmental and heath burden, are most vulnerable to climate impacts due to lack of resources, or are severely burdened by housing costs. The definition also considers economic disadvantage (i.e. below 80% Area Median Income). This community-centered approach to defining vulnerability supports development of resiliency at many scales.  

Each of the geographically-focused, multi-benefit projects will include a Local Working Group made up of diverse stakeholders from city and county staff, transit agencies, community-based organizations, business, etc. The Local Working Group will work with the consultant team and members of the Project Management Team to define roles and responsibilities, outline goals and objectives for each project area, and finalize the advanced work plan.

ART Bay Area will help inform, target, and improve community engagement processes conducted for the selected project sites. ART Bay Area is partnering with the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities (BARHII) organization, comprised of all the county health departments in all 9 Bay Area counties, to develop a meaningful public participation and community capacity building effort in three disadvantaged communities. The Resilient by Design effort resourced community-based groups and partnered with UC Berkeley to work on substantial collaborations around final design concepts and a youth-led design workshop. Each RBD project has helped grow a diverse stakeholder network of public, private, community-based, and institutional supporters from different perspectives and backgrounds who are invested in advancing multi-benefit adaptation projects to strengthen the region against sea level rise, extreme storms, and earthquakes.

Climate Impact Area

The geographically-focused, multi-benefit projects will be focused on addressing impacts of flooding, sea level rise, and earthquakes on vulnerable transportation infrastructure, communities, and other critical assets. They will advance solutions that are oriented towards addressing the integrated nature of these assets, looking toward natural solutions to protect urban shoreline assets, and identify ways to achieve multiple benefits through large-scale investments in transportation and other infrastructure. The focus on transportation assets will also be mindful of opportunities to expand active transportation options, while addressing vulnerabilities to future climate impacts, and therefore achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, while strengthening resilience at the same time.

The Bay Area has different mechanisms for monitoring project performance, including through its Sustainable Communities Strategy (also known as Plan Bay Area), Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals, and ART Bay Area. For Plan Bay Area, the goal is to incorporate these projects into future updates and into the environmental review process.   

Funding Source

This project is funded through a SB1 Adaptation Planning grant, with the match provided by MTC Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). The total project budget is $507,000.

Research and Data

Data Tools & Resources:

For Financing

Based on analysis conducted for Resilient by Design, BCDC’s Financing the Future Working Group, ART Bay Area and the Office of Planning and Research’s financing work, the project will identify the best financing mechanisms for each project. For example, the projects and/or different project components may be considered as viable candidates for funding through the Bay Area’s Sustainable Communities Strategy (Plan Bay Area) and/or local and regional measures such as Regional Measure 3 (RM3, regional), Measure AA (regional), Measure RR (BART), or Measure KK (City of Oakland).


We have not yet selected the two project areas, so challenges based on local conditions remain unknown. It is likely that the biggest challenge will be focusing in on the most viable aspects of projects that can best be advanced through this grant to move toward implementation.  We also anticipate challenges in identifying ways in which we can leverage other resources to bring more expertise and capacity to solve resilience challenges on a more accelerated timeframe.


This project will develop Adaptation and Implementation Roadmaps (AIR) for each project area, including short, medium, and longer-term actions that will be necessary over time to increase resilience. Short-term actions will generally be those actions that can be taken within current governance and financing mechanisms, which address existing conditions and current flood risk and near-term sea level rise. Mid-term actions are those that begin to address higher water levels, those within the two to three feet of temporary to permanent water levels and will likely require new and innovative sources of funding and new governance structures. Long-term actions and projects will be those that address water levels that will cause widespread temporary or permanent flooding (Between four and six feet along many parts of the shoreline).

Adaptation strategies and specific actions will be advanced for two climate adaptation projects: The project will identify specific adaptation strategies in the project areas, establish roles and responsibilities for partners involved and develop roadmap for accomplishing goals over time. The deliverables will include:

  • Advanced finance strategy for each project.
  • Governance recommendations for how best to support multi-year, cross- jurisdiction, cross-sector and multi-benefit projects.
  • An Adaptation and Implementation Roadmap (AIR) that identifies short, mid and long-term actions necessary over time to increase resilience, and stakeholders responsible for actions.
  • Increased capacity of local partners to move the project through different phases.
  • Development of next phase of work to further advance each project.


  • Finance expertise: Other communities can benefit from the advanced finance strategy developed for each project, understanding the range of funding options available to support multi-benefit, multi-disciplinary resilience projects.
  • Governance Guidance: Other communities can apply the set of governance recommendations for best practices to support cross jurisdiction, cross sector and multi benefit projects to their own conditions, as appropriate.
  • How to Guide: The project partners will construct an easy to how-to guide for others to use to follow the process used to develop Adaptation and Implementation Roadmaps (AIR), including best practices and lessons learned.

Additional Resources

Details of the project will be available in the future on BARC, MTC, and ART Bay Area websites. The updated BARC website is currently being constructed and will go live August 1st. The project partners will include other useful data related to this project on our respective websites. More to come!

Further Information

Allison Brooks, Executive Director
Bay Area Regional Collaborative
(415) 778-5265