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To ensure the ongoing safety of our community, the City has been studying the degree to which we are vulnerable to the impacts of earthquakes and associated fire risks, intense storm events and sea-level rise. We have learned that, in fact, the City is quite vulnerable, largely because of the height and condition of the levees that support San Rafael Avenue and Beach Road, the rigidity of utility pipes that run under these levees and provide water, gas, sewer and electricity to large parts of the City (including all of Belvedere Island), and the unstable condition of the aging Beach Road seawall. The projected rise in sea levels, along with ongoing settling that is lowering the height of the levees, only adds to our concern.
Access along these roads is of critical importance, particularly in the event of an emergency. The seismic vulnerability of our water lines, which not only provide fresh water to most of Belvedere but also supply fire hydrants throughout the City, is particularly troubling.
Last autumn, the City Council had to declare a state of emergency when the Beach Road seawall began to fail. Just in time, we were able to shore up the critical area with steel sheet piling in what proved to be an extremely wet winter. The need for a long-term plan took on more urgency.
In May, the City Council established the Committee to Protect Belvedere’s Seawalls, Levees and Utilities. The Committee was tasked with reviewing information that has been developed, examining a variety of options for improving our situation, and making recommendations to the City Council on next steps.
We would like to broaden the conversation to include every citizen of our city. A website has been developed to provide updated information on these issues to our residents. We are also planning a series of public meetings in October that will offer opportunities to discuss vulnerabilities and proposed solutions. The City welcomes input from all.
We encourage you to spend some time reviewing the website, found at: www.belvedereseawall.org