Issue 570April 2019

San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas

Working with nature to plan for sea level rise

SPUR Report May 2, 2019

As the climate continues to change, communities will need to adapt the San Francisco Bay shoreline to rising sea levels. But the Bay’s varied landscapes and many overlapping jurisdictions make a coordinated response challenging. The San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas, a joint effort by SPUR and the San Francisco Estuary Institute, proposes a science-based framework for using nature to plan for climate adaptation in the Bay Area. It is the first research to come out of the SPUR Regional Strategy, an initiative to plan for the Bay Area of 2070.

The atlas proposes a new regional planning framework by dividing the 400-mile Bay shoreline into 30 distinct operational landscape units or OLUs — geographic areas that share common physical characteristics and, subsequently, common adaptation strategies. OLUs cross traditional city and county boundaries but adhere to the boundaries of natural processes like tides, waves and sediment movement.  

The atlas also identifies 27 different adaptation measures, from nature-based options to policy tools, and describes their suitability within each OLU.


One in a series of publications that lay the groundwork for the SPUR Regional Strategy. The complete strategy will be published in 2020.

Get Email Updates

Get SPUR news and events delivered straight to your email inbox.

Sign up now