The projected rise in sea levels over the coming decades due to climate change has prompted officials with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to express concern that locating a second campus at Alameda Point could make it vulnerable to flooding. Alameda officials, however, say they are confident the site they offer will be safe.
The cities of Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Richmond, as well as Golden Gate Fields -- which spans Berkeley and Albany -- are all under consideration for the new campus.
The site that will eventually be chosen, Berkeley lab officials say, must be within a 25-minute commute from their man campus above the University of California, have enough land for future growth and be accessible by public transportation.
Alameda city leaders are vigorously campaigning to secure the new campus, saying it will provide local jobs and help jump-start the redevelopment of Alameda Point.
But in their talks with city representatives, lab officials have questioned whether the projected rise in sea levels would affect the proposed 50-acre site at the former U.S. Navy base, said Andrew Thomas, Alameda's planning services manager.
"It's essentially an issue that they raised with the site," Thomas told the City Council on Tuesday. Thomas said he believed that the proposed location along Ferry Point Road between West Hornet and West Ticonderoga avenues was suitable.
"Relative to the rest of Alameda -- and
With more than six miles of shoreline, Alameda Point could be especially vulnerable to flooding as sea levels rise. It totals 1,444 acres, or makes up about one-third of the island of Alameda.
Berkeley lab officials will likely announce the location for their new campus in November.
Most of the Berkeley lab's 4,200 employees work at its main site, but about 20 percent of them are dispersed in leased facilities around the East Bay, including in Emeryville and Walnut Creek.
The second campus, which is expected to open by 2016, will allow closer employee interaction and thus help facilitate research, lab officials say.
The issue of climate change and the location for the new campus emerged as the Alameda City Council was considering a resolution to support changes that the Bay Conservation and Development Commission has made in its overall plan for San Francisco Bay to address rising sea levels.
While the council was already on record voicing concern that the changes could undermine local authority on land use, the Planning Board voted in July to ask it to take another look at the document.
On Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to support the amendments.
Critics say the changes in the plan could discourage investment along waterfront neighborhoods, which traditionally have been industrialized and are now ideal for redevelopment. But the commission says the amendments are aimed at combating climate change, not to sidestep local government control.
Climate change is projected to cause San Francisco Bay to rise more than 18 inches over the next 50 years. The effort to curb its effects -- such as changed local waterfronts and increased ground water -- will likely evolve over time as new technologies emerge and money is secured to pay for them, according to the commission.
State lawmakers created the commission in 1965 to help guide policy toward San Francisco Bay. Its jurisdiction is within 100 feet of the bay's shore.