An Update from Resilient by Design’s Team Common Ground

By Team Common Ground

Team Common Ground, a group of designers, engineers, scientists, and educators, is working on a design study of the San Pablo Baylands and Highway 37 corridor for the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge.

While the focus of the design challenge is strengthening local and regional resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding, and seismic events, the team is also trying to address other, sometimes more pressing challenges. These include lack of housing, displacement, limited access to public land, and outdated transportation.

Along with local stakeholders and the input of San Pablo Bay communities, Team Common Ground is looking at ways that people around San Pablo Bay could share and steward environmental resources while having more diverse means to connect with each other for work, living, recreation, food, health, and cultural ties.

In addition to working with local experts, landholders, and planners, the team has been finding ways to reach out to some of the many communities on the periphery of the baylands whose residents use Highway 37. The team has met with groups in Vallejo, Mare Island, Petaluma, Novato, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco. They’ve also worked with middle school students to innovate solutions for marsh-building and resilience to sea level rise. In these classroom workshops, students used clay, moss, and sticks to model “sediment accretion gardens” and explore a range of ways to adapt the baylands for a future of higher seas.

Team Common Ground, along with other Resilient by Design Challenge teams from around the Bay, will be presenting its design ideas at the Resilient Bay Summit in Alameda on May 18th. The event is free and open to the public but requires an RSVP; details can be found here.

The proposed design aims to re-imagine the SR 37 corridor, support ongoing restoration of the Bay Area’s largest continuous marsh system, and equitably connect communities around San Pablo Bay through a resilient and diverse transportation network. To unite the communities of San Pablo Bay with the rest of the Bay Area, Team Common Ground envisions transitioning from a predominantly single-function transportation infrastructure to a network of interconnected modes of transit. These various modes of transit would encourage smart growth, be resilient to sea-level rise and seismic events, and accommodate natural hydrological dynamics to incrementally restore vibrant and functional bayland ecosystems.

TLS Landscape Architecture Principal Erik Prince described the team’s scope, saying “We see our role as supporting and building on the work that’s already underway, communicating the risks of sea level rise, helping to provide an appealing vision of what the future of the SR37 corridor and baylands might look like, and working with community leaders to get broad-based stakeholder buy-in. We want our proposal to be realistic, but we also want to provide a fresh look at the problem while still drawing from and supporting the years of hard work that’s already been done.”

On May 5, the team will be hosting a Baylands Discovery Walk on the new Eliot Trail at Sears Point. The guided walk will use the Bay Trail’s new audio tour to highlight how the Sears Point wetland restoration project is transforming a former diked hay field into a marshland teeming with life. You can find more details about the event here.

Team Common Ground consists of:

  • TLS Landscape Architecture
  • ExploratoriumSitelab
  • Urban Studio
  • Michael Maltzan Architecture
  • Guy Nordenson & Associates
  • Rana Creek Design
  • Lotus Water
  • Richard Hindle
  • Dr. John Oliver
  • HR&A Advisors
  • Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants

Photo: Team Commond Ground

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