San Francisco’s Embarcadero Seawall was constructed more than a century ago and is the foundation of over three miles of the city’s northeastern waterfront stretching from Fisherman’s Wharf in the north to Mission Creek in the south.
The Embarcadero Seawall supports key utility networks and transportation infrastructure for the BART, Muni, and ferry transportation networks. Additionally, the Seawall serves as a critical emergency response and recovery area and provides ﬂood protection for downtown San Francisco.
With over $100 billion in assets and economic activity along the waterfront, the Seawall underpins the Historic Embarcadero Promenade, many of the city’s iconic tourist destinations, parks, restaurants, and local businesses – all drawing in the more than 24 million people who visit the waterfront each year.
All of today’s activity along the northern waterfront is made possible by the Seawall at its base.
The Embarcadero Seawall is At Risk – and so is San Francisco
The Embarcadero Seawall was built more than 100 years ago and is older than most other major pieces of infrastructure in the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower. The Seawall was designed before engineers understood how to build infrastructure to survive earthquakes. For more than a century the Seawall has served us well, but it is now in need of significant improvements to withstand the next major earthquake and protect us from an increase in flooding from sea level rise.
If we don’t fix our Seawall now, it may not be strong enough to protect us in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. We know that the Seawall needs refurbishment and that waiting until after a major seismic event will be far more damaging, dangerous, and expensive than fixing the Seawall now.
San Francisco Seawall Earthquake Safety and Disaster Prevention Program
In 2015, the Port of San Francisco launched the San Francisco Seawall Earthquake Safety and Disaster Prevention Program, a major City and Port effort to significantly improve earthquake safety and performance of the Embarcadero Seawall, provide near-term flood protection improvements, and plan for additional long-term resilience and adaptation of the northern Bayfront.
Seismic improvements to the Embarcadero Seawall will require local, state, and federal partnerships for project legislation, permitting, and funding. Immediate life safety upgrades may exceed $500 million and full infrastructure improvements are estimated to cost up to $5 billion. To date, the City has invested nearly $10 million for project planning. San Francisco’s Proposed Ten-Year Capital Plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2027 includes a proposed $350 to $500 million General Obligation bond for the November 2018 ballot to help protect and strengthen the Embarcadero Seawall. The bond will require two-thirds voter approval and will not raise tax rates.