The Seawall Finance Work Group Report Released This Week

July 26, 2017

The Office of Resilience and Capital Planning today announced the release of the Seawall Finance Work Group Report, which provides recommendations for how the City can fund the Seawall Resiliency Project.

The Seawall Finance Work Group (SFWG) was convened by the Office of Resilience and Capital Planning and the Port of San Francisco to analyze and prioritize potential funding sources to fill the funding need for the Seawall Resiliency Project. Chaired by the City’s Chief Resilience Officer, the SFWG was composed of 11 members representing eight City agencies as well as a private sector expert in public finance strategy.

San Francisco’s Great Seawall was constructed more than a century ago and is the foundation of over three miles of San Francisco waterfront stretching from Fisherman’s Wharf to Mission Creek. The Seawall supports historic piers, wharves, and buildings including the Ferry Building. It underpins the Embarcadero Promenade which welcomes millions of people each year, serves as a critical emergency response and recovery area, and supports BART, Muni and ferry transportation and utility networks. Additionally, the Seawall provides flood protection to downtown San Francisco neighborhoods.

In 2015 under the leadership of Mayor Lee, the Port launched the Seawall Resiliency Project, a multi-generational City project to significantly improve earthquake safety and performance of the Seawall, provide near-term flood protection improvements, and plan for additional long-term resilience and adaption of the northern Bayfront.

The SFWG was tasked with exploring potential funding sources for two phases of the Seawall Resiliency Project. Phase I is budgeted at $500 million through 2025 for the most critical life safety seismic improvements, and Phase II is budgeted at $2-5 billion after 2025 to address all seismic and sea level rise adaptation measures.

The SFWG was convened with the understanding that the City will not have the ability to fund the entire Seawall Project on its own and would have to find a solution that combined multiple funding sources. Meeting between November 2016 and May 2017, the Work Group analyzed 48 local, regional, state, and federal possible funding sources.

From these discussions, the SFWG ultimately recommended that the City pursue 17 funding sources, nine of which could currently produce meaningful proceeds for the Project. These recommendations range from local General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds and statewide strategies to federal funding through the Army Corps of Engineers.

These recommendations were presented to the City’s Capital Planning Committee and the Port’s Seawall Resiliency Project Executive Steering Committee. Efforts to secure funding from some of the recommended sources are already underway such as discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers and planning for a proposed $350 Seawall Fortification General Obligation Bond, slated to go before voters in November 2018. The Port will work with other City partners to determine a course of action on the other recommended strategies.

The Seawall Finance Work Group Report can be viewed online here.