San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection, Phase I

San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection, Phase I

San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection, Phase I

Protecting 1,000 Homes From 100-Year Flood Events

Following heavy flooding in February 1998 that caused $28 million in damage, the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority was created to protect more than 5,700 homes and businesses in East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

The SFCJPA has been developing projects focused on providing protection from future 100-year flood and sea-level rise events to these affected areas located in the San Francisquito Creek watershed. The San Francisco Bay to Highway 101 Project was the first project and involved the widening of a section of the creek along the Palo Alto Golf Course, which will help move water faster to the bay and prevent backups; construction of new floodwalls; an innovative horizontal levee that is adaptable to sea-level rise; and enhanced habitat and environmental improvements for wildlife and endangered species. 

The $44 million Phase 1 project was designed to protect East Palo Alto homes against sea-level rise that could be 10 feet higher than today. Receiving proper permitting from federal agencies concerned with wetland and endangered-species protections proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of the project. Completed at the end of 2018, Phase 1 alleviates flooding in areas of East Palo Alto and Palo Alto. By first addressing the downstream conditions, the SFCJPA will be able to continue with the design of projects that focus on improving flood protection in the upstream sections of the watershed that affect Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto. 

The end of the first phase caps more than 60 years of debate about how to finally address dangerous flooding along the creek, which has been exacerbated by upstream development that eliminated permeable ground that absorbed rainwater, as well as the construction of homes and businesses in the floodplain.

The project has also improved connections for pedestrians and bicyclists between the creek and adjacent marsh by adding a boardwalk at the Friendship Bridge and improving trail access. The project adds thousands of new plants for wildlife, including 22 acres of restored marsh. 

The SFCJPA is now looking to the second project phase, upstream of Highway 101, which would include areas in Palo Alto that flooded in 1998. That event alone affected 11,000 homes and caused 1,000 people to be evacuated in East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection, Phase I
San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority

Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, CA
United States

1.2 Miles of creek protected