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File #: 2022-2076   
Type: Consent Calendar Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 6/21/2022
Title: Adoption of Resolution Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute All Necessary Documents with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to Complete the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Project for $500,000 to Develop an Adaptation Concept. (Transportation 20962740)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Grant Cost and Schedule, 2. Resolution



Adoption of Resolution Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute All Necessary Documents with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to Complete the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Project for $500,000 to Develop an Adaptation Concept. (Transportation 20962740)




To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council




As stated in the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (2019), the northern shoreline of Alameda by the Posey and Webster Tubes is a high priority adaptation project in that it is a low-lying area.  The City of Alameda (City) is pursuing a sub-regional approach to adaptation in conjunction with key stakeholders - the City of Oakland, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), community-based organizations, etc. - since sea level rise is an issue encompassing a larger area than just Alameda.  A sub-regional approach will help achieve expedited and consensus-driven sub-regional solutions that are more apt to be grant funded for the next project phases of environmental clearance, permitting, design and construction.  The purpose of this agenda item is to request City Council approval of a resolution allowing City staff to proceed with the Caltrans-funded planning grant for the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation project to develop a concept.  The project webpage is <>.




The purpose of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Project is for the cities of Oakland and Alameda to work together to develop a holistic adaptation concept for the estuary near downtown Oakland and Alameda’s Marina Village area including the Webster/Posey Tubes, which benefits both jurisdictions. Staff will routinely seek input and active participation from community-based organizations to ensure the concept is responsive to community needs.  The City’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (2019) (CARP) includes an adaptation project for the northern shoreline area to protect the critical transportation infrastructure and the adjacent properties from a 100-year flood event and expected sea level rise.  The CARP was developed in close collaboration with Alameda partners, stakeholders and community members.  A long-term solution requires continued involvement to ensure that the project will serve multiple functions as follows:

                     Act as a barrier to the current 100-year coastal flood entry on the Alameda side;

                     Protect adjacent commercial and residential properties within the flood zone;

                     Act as a barrier using a conservative sea level rise scenario; and

                     Ensure interior drainage and projected emergent groundwater levels are considered.


The rate of sea level rise is dependent on global carbon dioxide emissions and other factors so it is not possible to determine exactly when the bay will rise by a certain amount.  Following guidance from the State of California, the City is using a high tide (mean higher high water, or MHHW) elevation of 10 feet North American Vertical Datum (NAVD) 88, which is approximately 3.5 feet above today's high tide (MHHW) for planning purposes to estimate future sea level rise.  More long-term scenarios also will be considered consistent with California’s latest Climate Change Assessment for the San Francisco Bay Area Region Report, which states that “Even with high levels of emissions reductions, research now suggests that at least 2 meters of sea level rise is inevitable over the next several centuries due to the lag of sea level rise in response to increasing global temperature.” (Page 7.)  Two meters equals 6.6 feet.  With 3.5 feet of sea level rise, the northern shoreline at the foot of Mariner Square Drive is likely to overtop on a daily basis due to sea level rise and so are portions of the Oakland shoreline, especially by Lake Merritt.  Overtopping at this location is linked to projected inundation that is expected to extend along Webster Street and nearby roads and into the Webster and Posey Tubes as well as to adjacent commercial buildings, the San Francisco Bay Trail (SF Bay Trail) and residential facilities.


The City of Oakland’s Draft Downtown Oakland Specific Plan recommends the development of the following suite of protection measures to ensure that Oakland is prepared to face rising sea levels:

                     Build a shoreline protection system to accommodate a mid-term rise in sea level of 3.5 feet, with development setbacks to allow for further adaptation for higher sea level rise.

                     Develop a long-term adaptive management strategy to protect against even greater levels of sea level rise of up to 6.9 feet, plus future storm surge scenarios and consideration of increased magnitude of precipitation events.

                     Consider designing temporary floodways within parking lots, walkways and roadways.

                     Construct the storm drainage system to be gravity drained for sea level rise up to 3.5 feet and pumped thereafter. Pumping should be secondary to protection.

                     Require that all critical infrastructure sensitive to inundation be located above the projected 3.5 feet rise in base flood elevation including Amtrak facilities, goods movement rail lines and BART infrastructure.

                     Design buildings to withstand periodic inundation and prohibit below-grade habitable space in inundation zones.

                     Where feasible, construct building pads and vital infrastructure at elevations 3 feet higher than the present-day 100-year flood event water level.

                     Re-evaluate both Bay flooding and watershed flooding potential at key milestones in the Downtown Specific Plan’s 20-year implementation horizon, to manage for changing sea level rise projections.


The grant will allow the City of Oakland to prepare a sea level rise strategy for the downtown area as part of a regional strategy to address rising water levels in the San Francisco Bay, and coordinate with the City’s broader climate adaptation efforts.




The purpose of this two-year Caltrans planning grant is to develop a concept in coordination with community members, stakeholders and the City Councils of Oakland and Alameda to protect both the downtown Oakland shoreline and Alameda’s northern shoreline by Marina Village - including the Posey/Webster Tubes, which is Caltrans State Route 260 property, and the SF Bay Trail - from expected sea level rise and to reduce the impacts of flooding.  The Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Project will ensure long-term use of this multi-modal transportation system including the Caltrans' tubes, State Route 260, the SF Bay Trail and the adjacent areas for these two diverse communities including disadvantaged populations in both west Alameda and Oakland Chinatown/Downtown Oakland. 


In February 2021, the City unsuccessfully applied for a Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning grant for only the City’s northern waterfront portion of the estuary adaptation project.  Caltrans stated that a stronger concept would include the key stakeholders on the Oakland side of the estuary, which is consistent with the City’s sub-regional approach that staff has been advancing in 2021 with the San Leandro Operational Landscape Unit (OLU) Working Group ( <>).  The Working Group is a coalition of shoreline communities and stakeholders working to co-create a coordinated and inclusive future-looking action plan and sub-regional organizational structure to accelerate sea level rise adaptation, protect and restore water quality and habitat, and promote community resilience.  The San Leandro OLU stretches from the Bay Bridge touchdown to Oyster Bay, and includes jurisdictions, agencies and community-based organizations that have an interest in the shoreline within the OLU, as well as regional and state collaborators.


In October 2021, the City resubmitted a grant application to Caltrans with the City as the grantee/applicant and the City of Oakland and community-based organizations as sub-applicants for a two-year planning grant to develop an adaptation concept for the Oakland-Alameda Estuary by the Posey/Webster Tubes and downtown Oakland.  In April 2022, Caltrans notified the applicant team of the conditional award for this project.  One of the Caltrans conditions is approval of a local resolution to execute the agreement, which is the purpose of this agenda item.  City staff is working with Caltrans to resolve the other conditions of the award, which include minor revisions to the work scope, schedule and budget.  Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda has been selected to represent the Alameda side of the estuary and will be a sub-applicant on the grant.  City staff is working to finalize the other community-based organizations that will represent the Oakland side of the estuary.  The start date of the project is expected to be November 2022.




The City Council may consider a range of alternatives:

                     Approve the local resolution for the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Project to develop a concept;

                     Approve the local resolution with revisions determined necessary by the City Council; and

                     Not approve the local resolution, and direct staff to proceed with another approach.




The Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Project totaling $500,000 will need a local match of $75,000.  Once the City Council and Caltrans approve the grant, City staff will return to City Council to request appropriation of the local funds, which are expected to be Measures B/BB, Alameda County’s transportation sales tax administered by the Alameda County Transportation Commission. 




This action does not affect the Alameda Municipal Code, and is consistent with the City's General Plan as follows:


Land Use (LU-30) - Waterfront Design

i. Climate Adaptation. Ensure all public investments are designed to accommodate the 50-year sea level rise


Conservation and Climate Action (CC-3) - Coordinated Regional and Local Planning State and Regional Funding

c. Advocate for and support state and regional efforts to provide funding for greenhouse gas reduction, transportation improvements, affordable housing, and climate change adaptation at the local level.

d. Sustainable Communities Strategy. Maintain consistency between the City’s General Plan, Climate Adaptation and Hazard Mitigation Plan, and Municipal Code and the regional Sustainable Communities Strategy.


(CC-4) Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions

b. Alameda Climate Action and Resiliency Plan Annual Review and Funding Priorities. Implement and update as necessary Alameda’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP) to reduce GHG emissions to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero GHG emissions as soon as possible. Implement adaptation strategies to address sea level and ground water rise, storm surges, inland stormwater system flooding, drought, extreme heat, and unhealthy wildfire smoke.


(CC-15) Neighborhood Resilience Coordination

b. Flooding. Include tailored planning and support for communities testing various flooding adaptation strategies.


(CC-20) Land Development

b. Mitigation. Require new development to incorporate design features to mitigate 50 years of the Ocean Protection Council’s Medium-High Risk Aversion, high emissions scenario of sea level rise in addition to a 100 year storm in the initial design and funding mechanisms to pay for later adaptation improvements to address future sea level and groundwater increases above that level. Projects that include new seawalls where none currently exist shall evaluate the off-site impact of the new walls on adjacent and nearby communities.


(CC-21) Sea Level Rise Plans

Develop neighborhood shoreline sea level rise protection and funding plans to 50 years of the Ocean Protection Council’s Medium-High Risk Aversion, high emissions scenario of sea level rise in addition to a 100-year storm in the initial design and funding mechanisms to pay for later adaptation improvements to address future sea level and groundwater increases above that level.


Mobility Element (ME-23) Resilient Transportation Infrastructure

a. Adaptation Strategies. Implement improvements to protect critical transportation facilities threatened by sea level rise or rising groundwater.

b. Nature Based Design. Require the use of bioswales, rain gardens, trees, coastal habitat restoration, and pervious materials as an integral part of an adaptation solution to enhance water quality, ecosystem health and the visual appearance of the facility, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the urban heat island effect and the flooding impacts on the stormwater system and the San Francisco Bay.


Hazard and Safety Element (HS-16) Regional Partnerships

Actively participate in regional discussions on drought, groundwater and sea level rise mitigation, infrastructure improvements, and adaptation strategies.


a. Funding and Partnerships. Develop partnerships with local, regional, and state agencies to expedite adaptation projects and ensure a healthy watershed that protects and restores water quality, habitat and community vitality along San Leandro Bay and the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.


(HS-17) Public Infrastructure Priorities

Identify public transportation, open space, and stormwater and wastewater facilities, shoreline assets, and other public assets vulnerable to sea level and groundwater rise and flooding hazards, and prioritize projects for adaptation funding.




Authorization of the local resolution for the grant is statutorily exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3), the general rule that CEQA only applies to actions that have the potential to cause a significant impact on the environment.




The project will improve the resiliency to the impacts of climate change.




Adopt a resolution authorizing the Interim City Manager to execute all necessary documents with Caltrans to complete the Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Project for $500,000 so as to develop an adaptation concept.


Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Director of Planning, Building and Transportation



Gail Payne, Senior Transportation Coordinator


Financial Impact section reviewed,

Margaret L. O'Brien, Finance Director



1.                     Grant Cost and Schedule


cc:                     Dirk Brazil, Interim City Manager

Erin Smith, Public Works Director