King Tides foreshadow Rising Sea Levels

During the 2012 King Tides the water rose to within a few feet of the top of the levees at Redwood Shores. Photo by Matt Leddy.
During the 2012 King Tides the water rose to within a few feet of the top of the levees at Redwood Shores. Photo by Matt Leddy.

Over the next few days Redwood City Residents who find themselves near the waterfront can get a glimpse of the future.

The King Tides lapping at our shores are the highest tides of the year, resulting from the the alignment of the sun and moon and other influences. When compounded by heavy rains and windstorms as it was in 2012 the result is extensive flooding in low lying areas.

Docktown was flooded, as was Pete's Harbor. Sea levels at Redwood Shores would have reached second story levels in many homes had it not been for levees that held back the water. Sea levels already perilously close to the top of the levees will eventually spill over in future years if not checked. Even the new condos at Marina One where the land was elevated prior to construction appeared vulnerable.

King Tides provide a glimpse every year of what lies ahead for Redwood City. Rising sea levels will eventually drown low lying areas, requiring adaptive measures on a grand scale in order for people to live and work near the water, including levees, land fill, and structures that rise with the tide.

In January the Inner Harbor visioning process moves to the next phase, where ideas presented so far begin translation into concrete plans.

This is largely an area at risk.

Everything on the low lying former marshlands that make up most of the Inner Harbor are threatened by rising seas, from the current waterways right up to Highway 101.

As such the Inner Harbor becomes the perfect test bed for Redwood City when it comes to designing responsive development.

Shall we build a levee around the entire area, separating land from water? Dump thousands of tons of dirt into low lying areas to elevate the land at least 6 feet to keep abreast of rising waters for the next 100 years? Create plant-filled marshes at the water's edge to help absorb rising sea? Create anchored buildings with expendable bottom floors?

Shall we adapt by retreating from the water's edge, writing off areas that are now land?

And how do we adapt while maintaining public access to the water, and recreational opportunities that including kayaking an boating? It's clear there is no single answer.

As the only floating community in the Inner Harbor, and indeed all of Redwood City, Docktown offers another solution that can complement these efforts and test responses to these questions. A floating Community that rises with the water provides a maritime experience on the creek that's integrated into the changing environment, not separated by levees.

Floating homes expand life onto the water itself, with residents immersed in nature, living lightly on the natural environment: Kayaks and seabirds. Hiking trails.

Floating shops and restaurants can add another layer to a maritime atmosphere experience unique to Redwood City, attracting visitors as well as townspeople; A public meeting of land and water. A waterside park, a gateway for kayakers and boaters to explore the city's winding waterways, and embrace the City's rich maritime history.

With a history of protecting Redwood Creek, Docktown is the perfect laboratory to develop concepts for meeting rising sea levels. Adaptive measures using green technology to supply necessary services and keep the water clean. Innovative transportation concepts. Magical meeting grounds between land, water, and people.

This is the future we want to see for Docktown and the Inner Harbor, and other parts of the Bay Area. A future where Bay Area residents adapt to rising sea levels by embracing the water, and learning to live with it.

King Tide events for the 2013-2014 season are:
  • December 30th-31st
  • January 1st-2nd
  • January 29th-31st

Find lots more info on King Tides at http://www.californiakingtides.org/

Opinions expressed in this blog post reflect only the views of the author, and not necessarily the entire Floating Community Association.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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