Palo Alto is sinking, and officials are worried


Evan Ajuria

Lowe begins his talk about what is causing the sea level rise and how people can reduce it.

Evan Ajuria, Staff Writer

For many years, the rising water levels have been in the back of many officials’ minds. Now it’s starting to impact our cities, and action will need to happen soon before any more damage is done.

On Feb. 27, the city of Palo Alto held a community meeting for those looking to get involved and learn more about the sea level rise policy, and many people showed up from across the Bay Area.

The state of California is anticipating the sea level to rise up to three feet by the end of the century. Palo Alto hopes it will not be the one to wait for change. The city is now adopting a plan to take action before any major harm can take place.

“We are holding this meeting to decide how we are going to protect our environment — are we going to adapt? Are we going to retreat? There are lots of different options that we can do to reinforce, but do we build levees, or do we decide to just let certain things go?” said Karin North, a resident of Palo Alto  who is putting the sea level rise policy draft together.

Not only people from Palo Alto came to the conference. People from all backgrounds and neighborhoods came out to share their opinions and ideas of what they want to see included in this new plan.

One of the issues that we have with a rising sea level and climate change, specifically in low-income communities, is the lack of housing availability, which means that rent is getting higher and people are moving out, and that’s preventing the state from making sure the community is getting help,” said Julio Garcia, a resident of Palo Alto.

Among the many people who came to discuss the future of the community was Jeremy Lowe, a scientist and technical consultant for Palo Alto. With 30 years of experience in sea level adaption, he spoke about what is to come and what the city needs to be aware of in the upcoming years.

“We already have a lot of structures around the Bay such as levees, in which to protect ourselves from flooding. Raising those types of structures is important, yet there is a limit to how much we can do,” Lowe said. “We have been measuring sea level rise over the last century, and we have had over seven inches of sea level rise since then.”

This meeting was not only to work on the draft of the sea level rise policy, but it was a great way for people who were in diverse job fields to connect and meet new people.

The next step is to get the rest of the community involved. Lowe offered some tips for how people can contribute. 

“By being careful of how they use fossil fuels, cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions is something everyone can do,” Lowe said.