Sep 13, 2023 - Climate

San Francisco to receive more climate resilience funds

Photo of a large tree collapsed on a road as workers clean up after a storm

San Francisco workers clean up a tree that fell on Fulton Street after a storm passed through the area on Jan. 10. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

San Francisco is one of several Bay Area census tracts recently designated a community disaster resilience zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Why it matters: A natural hazard assessment index was used to identify the most at-risk and in-need communities for the designation, which allows each zone to receive additional, targeted support for mitigation and resilience projects. It also aims to bring together government agencies, philanthropists, nonprofits and private businesses to collaborate across sectors.

  • Projects should be "designed to reduce injuries, loss of life, and damage and destruction of property" or critical services, per the 2022 bill that authorized the funding. That can involve actions like strengthening an electric grid or reinforcing housing structures.

What they're saying: It's critical to ensure that communities of color and low-income people, who are often most affected by climate change, have opportunities to serve at the forefront of this transition into a new "climate-resilient economy," James Irvine Foundation president Don Howard told Axios.

State of play: With climate change threatening to exacerbate cycles of flooding, wildfires and more, governments at all levels are funneling money into climate adaptation and resilience planning.

The big picture: Like many other jurisdictions throughout the Bay, San Francisco's climate action plan includes a hazard mitigation component.

  • The Office of Resilience and Capital Planning in July launched its first comprehensive initiative for addressing the public health effects of extreme heat and wildfire smoke, which have become more frequent and intense in San Francisco, according to city analyst Angela Yip.
  • The region is also highly vulnerable to flooding and liquefaction amid projected sea level rise, which a 2021 city report found will extend the coastal flood hazard zone farther inland.
  • Strategies identified as "Resilience Pathways" include reducing aging buildings' exposure to heat and poor air quality and bolstering emergency preparedness in extreme weather events.
  • Local groups have also spearheaded climate adaptation programs that target education, infrastructure, law and policy.
Data: Climate Central; Note: A CSI of 3 or higher means human-caused climate change made the average daily temperature at least three times more likely; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Of note: More than 320 million Americans — about 97% of the population — "experienced at least one summer day with temperatures made at least [two times] more likely due to human-caused climate change," per a new analysis from climate research and communications nonprofit Climate Central.

What to watch: The Biden administration has announced over $600 million in new investments aimed at bolstering coastal protections and fighting sea level rise.


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