Led by the San Mateo County Emergency Management Department, a group of 36 county departments, towns, villages and special districts have teamed up to develop a plan to address sea level rise, among others.
Menlo Park City Council voted 4-0 on Nov. 15 to approve the town portion of the county-wide plan, in the absence of Councilor Jen Wolosin.
The council’s approval means the city remains eligible to continue applying for funding from FEMA’s Risk Mitigation Assistance Program. Menlo Park received $ 5 million to upgrade a pumping station on Chrysler Drive near the bay and requested $ 50 million in funding through the SAFER Bay project to protect the community from rising water levels. the sea.
Each jurisdiction has created its own “annex” at the national level, defining specific long, medium and short term actions to reduce high risk hazards within city limits; in Menlo Park, these risks include flooding, earthquakes, and sea level rise / climate change.
A number of these actions in the Menlo Park plan are already underway, including updating the pumping station on Chrysler Drive, creating a map that takes into account the risk of flooding from climate change , updating the city’s stormwater master plan and implementing city water. system master plan and climate action plan, according to public works director Nikki Nagaya.
While the town of Menlo Park has been affected by a number of environmental and natural disasters over the past decades, the city reports that the financial impacts of these disasters are unknown to all except the El Niño event. of December 2012, which caused $ 3 million in damage. to private property in creek bank erosion and $ 820,000 in damage to homes and businesses, according to plan documents.
The financial costs to the city of the Loma Prieta earthquake in October 1989, the infamous El Niño flood of February 1998, the severe winter storms of February 2017, the COVID-19 pandemic and the poor quality of water. air caused by forest fires from mid-August to the end of September last year, everything remains unknown, according to the report.
Among the natural hazards likely to hit Menlo Park, flooding, earthquakes, and sea level rise / climate change rank number one, with flooding ranking the most risky hazard in the entire city. .
During city council discussion of the plan, City Councilor Cecilia Taylor expressed interest in the city adopting the state’s “CalEnviroScreen” tool in future updates to the plan and for assessing environmental justice. The CalEnviroScreen is a recently updated system showing cumulative environmental impacts in California communities by census tract.
The fourth version of this map was recently published and shows that most of Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley are in the 10% of the districts least affected by the environment, while those of Belle Haven, East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks fall between being in the 60-90% most environmentally affected census tracts statewide. The city is in the process of creating its first environmental justice “element” or a city-wide plan on how to work for a fairer and healthier environment throughout the community.
Nagaya said the county developed its plan using a similar tool called the Social Vulnerability Index. The local risk mitigation plan will be updated annually.