Public invited to help San Francisco’s Dogpatch, Potrero Hill adapt to sea level rise, flooding, drought

Hope Hui Rising
Hope Hui Rising

With San Francisco’s Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefit District (GBD), Washington State University’s Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative is organizing five community workshops on adapting the GBD to sea level rise, flooding, and drought. The public is invited to attend.

Workshops will take place January 27-29 at the Progressive Slovenian Home in San Francisco, a co-sponsor of the events. Sessions are 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27; 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 and 29; and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Jan. 28 and 29.

Each workshop includes design game tables where high school and college students can work on solutions with community members, stakeholders, design professionals, and experts from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, the City of San Francisco’s Public Works and Planning departments, and the city’s sea level rise resilience program.

Six WSU students from Dr. Hope Hui Rising’s Junior Landscape Architecture Studio will travel to San Francisco to take part, with help from Alaska Airlines’ Imagine Tomorrow Travel Awards for the Itron Food, Energy, and Water Nexus, the Biofuels Challenge, and the McKinstry Built Environment Challenge.

Eight WSU students in architecture, civil and environmental engineering, and environmental sciences will also provide input through an experiential course called Rainworks Challenge, led by Rising, leader of the initiative.

The WSU Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative combines teaching, research, and outreach, bringing cutting-edge science into ecosystem-based urban design interventions, helping communities adapt to climate change impacts, including sea level rise, drought, and recurring flooding.

“Climate adaptation has not been addressed by our standard high school and college curriculum,” said Rising. “These hands-on education workshops are intended to empower our younger generation to be change leaders by putting their future survival in their hands.”

Excerpts from Rising’s upcoming book on adaptive water urbanism. Similar form-based codes will be created as design game cards to be located on maps during workshops.
Excerpts from Rising’s upcoming book on adaptive water urbanism. Similar form-based codes will be created as design game cards to be located on maps during workshops.

The first of its kind in the world, the Green Benefit District is a special taxing district created by voters to fund public amenity and green infrastructure projects. The district already experiences flooding and sewage backup when storms coincide with especially high tides. Neighborhoods face increased flooding, toxic contamination and health threats from climate change impacts.

“The rising San Francisco Bay water can speed up the release of toxics and cause sewage to back up into people’s homes and streets in Dogpatch,” Rising said. “Raising waterfront edges is likely to create a bathtub effect in Dogpatch to increase inland flooding risks.”

Dogpatch’s sewage system was designed to accommodate up to three hours of rain from small storms that used to occur every five years. “Climate change will bring more sustained droughts, and intense storms that used to happen only every hundred years will happen more frequently,” said Rising.

During the workshops, a community-owned utility system will be tested as a way to help fund climate resiliency measures, while creating welcoming public spaces that benefit the environment.

“Climate-proofing Dogpatch requires solutions from both within and outside of the Benefit District, “said Rising. “For example, advancing into the Bay with a super levee and a park built on the polder, or reclaimed land, to host amphibious and floating developments may be a win-win solution for both developers and existing residents. That’s because waterfront properties can be fully clean up to host more livable and affordable developments with more open spaces. These open spaces, along with the polder park, will help alleviate the compounding effects of coastal, river and inland flooding.”

To RSVP for one of the workshops, visit or send an email to More information about the WSU Adaptive Water Urbanism Initiative can be found at To support the initiative with donations, go to