The City of Berkeley is not ready for sea level rise. In fact, the City isn’t ready for the sea levels right now. There’s a gap in the sea wall along the North Basin, opposite the hotel, where tides as low as the 6.8 we had on Friday morning, December 6, flood thirty yards of the heavily used bike and pedestrian path where it meets the Virginia Street Extension. We’re going to get tides higher than that around the Winter Solstice this year, as we do every year.
This gap has gone unplugged for years. I have photographs showing this gap and the resulting floods as early as 2012, see below. In that year, the City built a secondary wall, a berm, out of wood chip mulch on the west side of the flooded path to protect the paved road and the hotel. It did nothing to plug the gap. Every year since, at the year-end King tides and other high tides, the path has flooded. Why?
The gap in the sea wall is not six feet wide. A single pickup truck load of rocks and gravel would fix it. The City clearly knows about it, else why send a man with a bobcat to build the mulch berm in 2012? This past July, I personally walked with Walt V., a Parks Department supervisor, and showed him the gap. There is knowledge and there is inaction. Nothing has been done about this gap. Nothing has been done about the blue disabled parking zone signs on the north end of Marina Boulevard, that have disappeared. Nothing has been done about the numerous signs marking the boundaries of the dog park (“Off Leash Area”) that have also disappeared. Nothing has been done to replace the signs marking the Nature Area on the north end of the park. And of course nothing has been done to replace the disgusting porta-potties with real flush-toilet bathrooms.
Yes, I know the staff are busy. Much to do, few to do it. Yet there was staff time last fall to mow the weeds that had set seed, leading to a bumper crop of weeds today. And there was staff time a month ago to clearcut all vegetation for three feet on each side of the v-shaped drainage ditches that criosscross the park. Was that really necessary or useful? There’s time to chop fennel that isn’t doing any harm, and there’s time to pile up small mountains of wood chips up in the dog park, but there’s no time to plug up a gap where the salt water gets in.
Berkeley, where exactly is the basis for our reputation as a progressive and functional city? Certainly not in the Parks Department. We can’t even plug obvious old seawall gaps. How in heck are we going to deal with the coming rise in sea levels?