Tag: Wildfires

Why the 100% Affordable Housing Project at 480 E. 4th Avenue and 400 E. 5th Avenue in San Mateo Would Increase the City’s Climate Resilience Capacity

Why the 100% Affordable Housing Project at 480 E. 4th Avenue and 400 E. 5th Avenue in San Mateo Would Increase the City’s Climate Resilience Capacity

On April 28th, 2020, the City of San Mateo Planning Commission held an online study session looking for community feedback on a proposed project that would bring 225 affordable housing units to the downtown area. I wrote a letter explaining why the project would increase the city’s resilience capacity towards climate change.

 

To the City and Community of San Mateo, 

My name is Isaac Gendler. I am a Housing-Climate Resilience Researcher whose work is focused on the San Francisco Bay Area. It has recently come to my attention that Downtown San Mateo may soon be a host to a 100% affordable unit project at 480 E. 4th Avenue and 400 E. 5th Avenue. The geographical positioning of the venture would simultaneously make the city a more just, equitable, and climate-resilient place to live for all.

According to Zillow, the median home value in San Mateo is $1,467,184 and the median rent is $3,357. Given that the minimum wage of the city is $15.38, the cost of living is simply out of reach for many people who would be potential upstanding residents. If the proposed project is constructed according to its current specifications, it will contain 225 units of 100% affordable housing, half of which are designated as low and extremely-low income units. This will allow workers and their families of all backgrounds to enjoy the full benefits of living in the city. A city with ample greenery, clean air, and the most comfortable weather in the world.

Not only would this project provide a phenomenal quality of life and a plethora of economic opportunities for these potential residents, but also insulate them from the effects of climate change. If constructed, this project would provide dense transit-oriented housing in a location that would be safe from the ill effects of sea-level rise. In fact, even the most dire climate models predict that by the year 2100 the site will not be negatively impacted. It would also be a secure distance from the wildland-urban interface, ensuring that residents would be spared from wildfires. The units will be constructed to the most current building codes guaranteeing a safe indoor environment to counteract a hazardous outdoor environment, such as wildfire smoke or a global pandemic.  

It is understandable that some residents are concerned and hesitant about these changes. The height of the buildings is above the average San Mateo home, and the architecture may be seen as unfamiliar. However, at this moment we must consider what San Mateo could lose if this project is downsized or even terminated. The city would lose residents to other towns that will most likely not have access to the same level of provided services. They may be forced to super commute over an hour to work, leading to great financial, psychological, and physiological stress.  If San Mateo strives to be a champion of equity and environmental management, this project would be a pragmatic and forward-thinking avenue to pursue.

I endorse this project for the economic and environmental benefits it will bring to both the current and future community of San Mateo. Maps of the project’s positioning against sea-level rise and wildfires can be seen below.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

SignatureSmall

 

 

 

SeaLevelRise.JPG

200 cm sea-level rise map of San Mateo. The location of the project can be seen on the yellow pointer. Mapping courtesy of Our Coast, Our Future (link). 

Wildfire.JPG

Wildland-Urban Interface map of San Mateo. The location of the project can be seen on the black dot. Mapping courtesy of Los Padres ForestWatch (link). 

 

Header image credit https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/

Why a Complete Drought Might Stop Wildfires

Why a Complete Drought Might Stop Wildfires

Why a Complete Drought Might Stop Wildfires

04/30/20

“Why might a complete drought stop wildfires?”

 

Northern California’s wildfire potential is caused by the early rains creating a wildlife bloom and bone-dry Summer making it all brittle. However, if there was a complete drought with absolutely no rainfall all year round, then there would no vegetation, turning the area into a wildfire-free desert environment. This is Why a Complete Drought Might Stop Wildfires.

Wildfire Simulation

Wildfire Simulation

Wildfire Simulation

04/29/20

“How can we simulate wildfires?”

 

Wildfires can cause damage in often unpredictable ways. In order to add a deeper level of risk analysis to this, Wildfires Simulations can be done to compute what a possible wildfire would look like. Wildfire simulations can take in aspects such as Wind speed, wind direction, fuel moisture content, fuelscape, ignition location, ignition probability, containment probability, fire duration.

 

Image credit http://www.firelab.org

Why WUI Maps Need to Take Into Account Wind Effects

Why WUI Maps Need to Take Into Account Wind Effects

Why WUI Maps Need to Take Into Account Wind Effects

04/08/20

“Why do wildfire maps need to take into account the effects of wind?”

 

Wildland-urban interface maps are pivotal for community planners, emergency managers, and policymakers to understand their community’s vulnerability to wildfire. However, seldom do these take into account wind, which holds the potential to spread fires beyond the natural wildland-urban interface. This can be a critical factor and needs to be taken into account. This is Why WUI Maps Need to Take Into Account Wind Effects.

Image credit media.wired.com

Why Wildfires Can Increase Social Vulnerability

Why Wildfires Can Increase Social Vulnerability

Why Wildfires Can Increase Social Vulnerability

03/28/20

“How is it that wildfires can increase social vulnerability?”

 

Social vulnerability can be a factor of many things, such as employment opportunities, education level, and monetary income. However, disasters can also be a larger factor. In dry and forested areas such as Northern California, wildfires can wreak havoc on communities, adding to this problem. This is Why Wildfires Can Increase Social Vulnerability.

How California’s AB 3156 Will Increase Wildfire Resilience

How California’s AB 3156 Will Increase Wildfire Resilience

How California’s AB 3156 Will Increase Wildfire Resilience

03/21/20

“How will California’s AB 3156 make the state more resilient to wildfires?”

 

California’s housing crisis is exacerbating its vulnerability to wildfires. By pushing people, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds, away from the coast and into the wildland-urban interface, its two crises are coming together. To solve this, more affordable housing can be built by the coastline. AB 3156 by California Assemblymember Robert Rivas will allow for streamlining of housing approval by the California Coastal Commission, allowing for this housing supply to increase and host people away from wildfire territory. This is How California’s AB 3156 Will Increase Wildfire Resilience.