4 Bay Area Cities Named “Resilient” by Rockefeller Foundation

The four Bay Area cities of Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco are among 11 U.S. cities chosen for the first group of The Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities: Centennial Challenge.” The 33 first-group winners were selected from applications submitted from across the world, and they will receive support and resources to create and implement plans for increased urban resilience over the next three years.Oakland_California_aerial_view

What is “resilience”?

The Foundation defines “building resilience” to be “…about making people, communities and systems better prepared to withstand catastrophic events–both natural and man-made” and be able to “…emerge stronger from these shocks and stressors.” The selected cities presented a dedicated commitment to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from potential challenges they might face in the coming years.

The cities

Alameda is a city in Alameda County that is located on Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island in the Eastern San Francisco Bay, and is next to the city of Oakland. The city of Alameda’s “resilience challenge” stems from being densely populated, surrounded by water, and located between two major fault lines. Therefore, it has the highest tsunami exposure on the West Coast, according to a 2012 U.S. Geological Survey Report. In order to prepare for potential disasters such as earthquakes, flooding, or tsunamis, Alameda has implemented disaster-preparedness programs and is developing new strategies to meet future needs.

Oakland is also located in Alameda County, and is the busiest port for the San Francisco Bay and Northern California. Like the city of Alameda, the city of Oakland has a high number of people and businesses in the tsunami-inundation zone. Therefore, part of Oakland’s “resilience challenge” involves preparing for flooding and seismic risk. The city is taking a more community-based approach to disaster-preparedness, and seeks to solve social and economic problems as well.

Berkeley is the fourth smallest city in northern Alameda County, and is bordered on the south by the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. The city of Berkeley’s “resilience challenge”, like its neighboring cities, partially stems from being in a seismically active zone. The city is committed to emergency preparedness and has created best practices for hazard mitigation that can be an example for other cities.

San Francisco is a very densely populated city on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, and is Northern California’s leading financial and cultural center. Part of the city of “San Francisco’s resilience challenge” involves preparing people and structures for earthquakes and fires. Advancements in building codes have improved building safety, and the city’s use of social media as part of its emergency preparedness plan is distinguishing.

What’s next

The 33 selected first round cities will each receive support to hire a Chief Resilience Officer, who will coordinate and oversee the development of a resilience plan of actionable initiatives. The cities will also have access to a platform of implementation support services and networking opportunities. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge was announced on May 14, 2013, and received about 400 applications from cities around the world. To explore the first 33 selected cities, visit http://100resilientcities.rockefellerfoundation.org/cities.

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