Chiu Bill to Fund Embarcadero Seawall Improvements Passes Assembly

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Legislation would generate $250 million to strengthen San Francisco waterfront to protect against seismic events and flooding

SACRAMENTO—A bill by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to finance crucial improvements to the Embarcadero Seawall along three miles of San Francisco waterfront passed the Assembly today. Assembly Bill 2578 would give the state a mechanism to contribute to the Seawall Earthquake Safety Program and would generate an estimated $55 million in the first ten years of the program and $250 million over the lifetime of the program.

AB 2578 will provide an initial state investment in the Seawall Program by allowing the city to direct a greater portion of tax increment to the Port’s Infrastructure Financing District (IFD) and authorizing the use of that funding for shoreline improvements. San Francisco received the ability to form IFDs along the Port through previous state legislation.  

“Sea level rise and earthquakes are real threats to San Francisco’s waterfront and downtown core,”  said Assemblymember Chiu. “Strengthening the Embarcadero Seawall will safeguard us against potential flooding that threatens the future of our city and region. While the federal government only talks about infrastructure, the State of California can be a partner as we work together to rebuild this crucial asset.”

Construction of the Embarcadero Seawall began in 1879 on unstable soil and before advancements in engineering enabled infrastructure projects to survive major seismic events. It is San Francisco’s oldest infrastructure at 100 years old and has settled and cracked. Combined with the threat of rising sea levels as a result of climate change and an inevitable major earthquake, the Seawall’s vulnerability makes the city’s northeastern waterfront particularly susceptible to disastrous earthquake damage and flooding.

The Seawall protects the Bay Area’s major rail and ferry transportation systems, which carry nearly 500,000 passengers per day, and supports $100 billion of assets and economic activity along the city’s northeastern waterfront, making it a crucial resource for the entire region. In the event of an emergency, the Embarcadero will be a critical area to transport people and supplies in and out of the city.

The Port of San Francisco is spearheading the San Francisco Seawall Earthquake Safety and Disaster Prevention Program, an effort to strengthen and make critical safety upgrades to the Embarcadero Seawall. Immediate upgrades to the seawall may exceed $500 million and full infrastructure improvements are estimated to cost up to $5 billion. Funding will come from a variety of federal, state, local and private sources.

AB 2578 is sponsored by the Port of San Francisco and is co-authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). The bill now advances to the Senate.