Foster City Levee Improvement Project Receives Approval for BCDC Project

By on November 30, 2019

Although the Foster City levee improvement project is a year behind its original timeline, City Manager Jeff C. Moneda issued a press release late last week that shared the news of receiving an approved required permit from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) for construction of the Levee Protection Planning and Improvements Project (Levee Project). All 19 BCDC commissioners present unanimously approved the city’s permit application.

The Levee Project’s issues date back to 2014 when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informed the city that its levee system would not withstand nor protect Foster City should a 100-year flood occur. FEMA had recently released placing the community into the flood zone. They informed the city that the levee would need to be raised from its current height of 12 to 13 feet to as much as 16 feet in specific areas. However, BCDC subsequently raised the requirement for the Levee Project to be two feet higher than FEMA’s requirements.

At BCDC’s Nov.21 public hearing the commissioners considered a permit application for the Levee Project to construct shoreline protection structures and redevelop public access along the shoreline levee system. The project entails numerous elements including levee rehabilitation work with new shoreline protection, redevelopment and widening of the levee Bay Trail, construction of two bridges to increase tidal circulation to enhance the O’Neil Slough in the southern segment of the project site and providing public access amenities and access to the Bay.

Staff from both the BCDC and the city of Foster City have been working on finetuning the information included with the application to allow for formal presentation to the BCDC Board. The application included letters of support from Senator Jerry Hill (D-13th District-San Mateo), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-14th District-San Mateo), and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-22nd District-San Mateo).

“I am excited about the unanimous decision of BCDC approving this tremendous milestone for the Levee Project. We can now move onto the next phase of protecting the City from sea level rise 2050 and beyond.” said Mayor Sam Hindi. “We can’t thank our legislative officials enough for their support and efforts, as well as the work from our project team and staff. I trust that the same intensity and dedication will be carried forth in the next phase and throughout the duration of this project.”

Since Foster City residents voted for a $90 million general obligation bond for the Levee Project in June 2018 the city’s project team has prepared and submitted the required regulatory permit applications. The remaining permit needed for the Levee Project is from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which is anticipated to be issued in late December 2019 or early January 2020. The Levee Project is currently designed to 95% completion. However, officials remain concerned about costs of the project.

“The big question in the back of my head is cost,” Hindi said. “Hopefully we’ll be within budget, but we won’t know until the request for proposals comes back.”