Resilient Overview

RESILIENT SF is a strategy that seeks to tap into our city’s tenacity by laying out our most pressing challenges and demanding that City government partner with the community to make bold and lasting progress on these challenges. When we think about San Francisco, we think of a city of unwavering strength, a city that is prepared to not only respond but to recover, and a San Francisco of strong and unified neighborhoods, ready to continue reimagining, and striving for the strong and resilient San Francisco of tomorrow.

Cities around the world are grappling with the realities of climate change and rising seas, escalating urbanization and increasingly frequent disruptions of daily life. Here in San Francisco, we are struggling with how the hazards we face—and our response to them—expose several interdependencies that we must better understand. What is 21st century San Francisco? To whom will this city be available? How can we maintain our San Francisco values and, perhaps, make them even stronger?

Resilience describes the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. Approaching challenges through the lens of resilience helps cities better serve their residents today and plan for the longer term. Resilience demands moving beyond reaction through proactive planning. The approach calls for considering problems systematically and bridging the practice gaps between social justice, sustainability, disaster recovery and other areas.

The Office of Resilience and Capital Planning has been leading the implementation of several initiatives and collaborating and tracking the progress of initiatives led by partner agencies. Click on the links to the left to learn more about our city’s challenges and current priority resilience initiatives.

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Our Resilience Challenges:

Earthquakes: There is a 76 percent chance  the Bay Area will experience a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in the next 30 years. Even the relatively moderate and distant 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake (6.9) caused substantial damage to our city. It is imperative to the survival of San Francisco that we continue working to prepare for and recover from the “big one.”

Climate Change: The impacts of climate change are already being felt in the form of drought and record breaking temperatures. In addition, up to 66 inches of sea level rise could impact our shores by 2100. We must secure our city’s future by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, while adapting to the likely impacts of climate change today rather than when it is too late.

Infrastructure: Infrastructure is central to our daily lives—from the roads and pipes we use every day, to the larger systems, like food, social networks and housing that we rely on as lifelines. Sometimes these systems continue to operate past their intended life span, and sometimes they are inadequate altogether to meet the needs of a growing and vibrant city.

Social Inequity: San Francisco embraces equality and equity in all policies, but this work is never done. Social equity and inclusiveness need to be at the core of what makes a city thrive.

Unaffordability: Forty-five percent of renters in San Francisco pay more than 30 percent of their household income in rent. Median home prices are continuing to rise, making it a challenge for first-time homebuyers. San Francisco is becoming out of reach for many of the people who made the city what it is today.

Population Growth: The Association of Bay Area Governments projects that the population of San Francisco will grow to 1 million, and the Bay Area will grow to 7.2 million residents by 2040.  We cannot just plan for our needs of today but rather must work together to plan for the needs of a growing population.

Our Resilience:

We have determined four actionable goals to address San Francisco’s interconnected challenges. Each goal was formed from, and will be supported by, leveraging successful City department-level initiatives, as well as supporting efforts (e.g., department studies, existing projects) within each goal’s policy area:

  • Plan and Prepare: San Francisco’s challenges build slowly and quickly, steadily and suddenly. This goal looks toward building our city’s capacity to handle today’s challenges and tomorrow’s disasters. We address land use planning and recovery planning, as well as earthquake planning and preparedness.
  • Retrofit Mitigate Adapt: We face a future with certain challenges. This goal looks to confront the pressing realities of an imminent large earthquake, a changing climate and rising seas, all while building a stronger city today.
  • Ensure Housing: Today’s challenges will only worsen with tomorrow’s disruptions. We must work now to ensure housing for all San Franciscans before and after a disaster. We will work to address our city’s housing and homeless crises through innovative policies, reimagining and bold action to build a stronger city for today and tomorrow.
  • Empower Neighborhoods: San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods and neighbors. This goal seeks to build on the strength of our city’s character and vibrancy, by being effective governmental stewards of resilient, healthy and cohesive neighborhoods based in trust, equity and partnership.

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