By Alex Laplaza
From Sea Level Rise to Homelessness: Developing Resilience with Equity
Oakland’s population of over 400,000 faces a daunting list of threats: sea level rise, earthquakes, and major droughts are among the many. In response to these vulnerabilities, the Bay Area city emerged as a national leader in community-based resilience planning. Oakland is planning for and mitigation of both acute disasters and chronic threats earned the city a spot in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network.
Oakland employs a multi-pronged resilience initiative that not only addresses natural threats, but engages social and economic stresses as well. The city aims to foster community-level resilience to conventional threats such as coastal flooding, drought, and earthquakes, as well as socioeconomic challenges such as social inequality and lack of affordable housing. The city’s priorities include upgrading planning strategies for pre-disaster seismic mitigation, protecting Oakland’s residents and infrastructure from rising seas, extreme heat and precipitation events, and evaluating impacts of climate change on utility and food costs, especially for low-income residents.
The dynamism of Oakland’s resilience priorities derive from efforts to establish groundbreaking and multifaceted community partnerships. For example, the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, an alliance of nearly 40 low-income community organizations, worked to effectively and equitably develop Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan – an effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Other NGOs and think-tanks such as the Pacific Institute and Bay Localize developed hazard mapping and outreach tools for community residents by producing multiple studies on the impacts and vulnerability related to sea level rise, coastal and storm flooding, and seismic hazards in soft-story housing.
Since receiving the $1 million dollar grant from the 100 Resilient Cities Network, Oakland appointed Victoria Salinas as its first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). Salinas previously held disaster relief and risk management positions at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the World Bank, the U.S. Department of State, and the United Nations Development Programme. As Oakland’s CRO, she’ll lead the city in its efforts to prepare for and respond to the city’s vulnerabilities.
Neighboring San Francisco and Berkeley also earned a spot in the 100 Resilient Cities Network. The three Bay Area cities face similar threats and vulnerabilities, yet engage with them differently. San Francisco leverages its innovative tech industry to dramatically improve building codes and educate communities on how to advance personal resilience. Berkeley utilizes its world class research facilities to develop resilience performance and tracking programs that are replicable worldwide. This multifaceted approach enables the Bay Area cities to share key ideas and resources, ultimately fostering a broader regional resiliency with equity.
For further information, please contact Alex Laplaza at email@example.com.