Embarcadero seawall repairs could top $5 billion

San Francisco’s Embarcadero Seawall along the northern waterfront is need of repair to protect The City from a massive flood that may come from the next big earthquake or from the rising sea level due to climate change.

Estimates put the infrastructure improvements to cost up to $5 billion for the more than 100-year old seawall, and The City is seeking approval of Assembly Bill 2578, introduced by Assemblyman David Chiu, which will allow the state a channel to contribute to the Seawall Earthquake Program.

The proposed bill would allow The City to direct the school’s share of tax increment from the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund to the Port of San Francisco’s infrastructure financing district to make shoreline improvements, according to Chiu’s office.

The bill would generate $55 million in the first 10 years of the program and $250 million over the lifetime of the program.

With more than $100 million of assets and economic activity to protect along the waterfront that come from businesses and visitors, Chiu said at Pier 14 during a press conference that it was important to make the investments now:

“It’s imperative that we protect this asset not just for San Francisco, but for the Bay and for our California economy.”

The state began building the more than three-mile long seawall in 1879 and supports key transportation infrastructure for BART, Muni and ferry transportation.

Elaine Forbes, executive director with the Port of San Francisco, said the area will also play a key role in providing emergency support for The City after a major disaster such as an earthquake:

“This Embarcadero has to hold up.”

Mayor Mark Farrell said it was not matter if but when the next big earthquake will hit but when:

“Let’s be clear, this is about planning about the future of our city. It is about infrastructure and it’s making sure our city is resilient when the next earthquake hits.”

Farrell added:

“We need to make our infrastructure is ready to protect the residents of our city. “

City officials also plan to place $350 to $500 general obligation bond on the November ballot to help fund some of the infrastructure improvements. The bond measure would require two-thirds voters to pass.