Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2021  
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  Sea Level Rise and Campus Bay
July 3, 2021

For months, persons opposing the development of the former Zeneca site (now called Campus Bay) have been complaining that sea-level rise has been underpredicted in environmental analysis of the project and that greater sea level rise will infiltrate the buried contaminants and wash them into the Bay. They base this on “new information” that sea level rise in 2100 could reach 7.6 feet. They are referring to this document: State-SLR-Principles_FINAL_April-2020.pdf (, which is a statement of principles that has been endorsed by the California Natural Resource Agency and most (if not all) of its departments and boards and commissions (including BCDC).  It is not a regulatory document. 

Sea Level rise of 7.6 feet by 2100 is a possibility, not a prediction. No one knows what sea level rise will be in 2100, but what we do know is if sea level rises to 7.6 feet in the next 79 years, Campus Bay will be the least of our problems.

You can see for yourself using the Adapt to Rising Tides (ART)  Bay Area Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Analysis maps are now available online at the Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer.

Screenshot of Shoreline Flood Explorer showing 24' of sea level rise
The ART Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer allows for interactive exploration and download of the Bay Area sea level rise and shoreline analysis maps. These maps depict areas at risk of temporary or permanent flooding due to sea level rise and storms as well as shoreline overtopping. The ART Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer is a website designed to help Bay Area communities, local governments, and the general public understand current and future flooding risks due to sea level rise and storms. The website will help users learn flood concepts, explore interactive flood maps, and download GIS data. These maps show what could be at risk without adaptation and identify specific areas that face the greatest risk, helping Bay communities, governments, and businesses to drive strategic action. The Bay Area Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Analysis maps are robust and accurate mapping products that leverage the latest LiDAR topographic data sets, the  FEMA San Francisco Bay Area Coastal Study and San Francisco Tidal Datums Study, and the  regional shoreline delineation developed by the San Francisco Estuary Institute.
The ART maps allow you to choose a future water level, and the closest to 7.6 feet (91.2 inches) in 84 inches, which will put a significant part of Richmond will be underwater, including:

  • Just about everything west of the Richmond Parkway
  • About half of North Richmond
  • Most of the BNSF train yards
  • Most of the Chevron Refinery that is not on a hill
  • Half of Atchison Village and Liberty Village
  • A significant portion of the Santa Fe Neighborhood
  • Point Richmond west of Railroad Avenue and north of East Richmond Avenue
  • Just about everything south of Cutting Boulevard
  • Parts of the Marina Bay neighborhood
  • Parts of the Richmond Annex and Annex Panhandle

It gets even worse when you look at King Tide and storm surge scenarios.

There are many areas, particularly in the western part of Richmond that include unremediated contaminated sites that pose a far greater risk than the Zeneca (Campus Bay) site.

The Zeneca (Campus Bay) and UC Field Station, interestingly, will largely remain high and dry.

Sometimes it is helpful to put things in perspective.