Mithun HOME Team Create Sea-Rise Concept for Richmond

In an innovative plan under the Resilient by Design challenge, a team led by integrated design firm Mithun and guided by a community advisory board, proposed today a suite of projects in the dis-invested community of North Richmond that leverage the responses to sea level rise and aging infrastructure into direct, local benefits including building health, wealth and paths to home ownership targeted to local residents. The projects, called “ouR-HOME” also highlight a living shoreline, tree planting focused on air quality, restored marshes as well as parks/trails/health opportunities integrated with sea-rise responses.

ouR-HOME‘s holistic design approach was informed by the advisory board of residents, local agencies and community organizations to build on existing plans and programs. It includes classic sea-rise tools and interrelated strategies such as:

  • Green infrastructure proposals to bring the ‘marsh to Main Street’ with a horizontal levee and planting of 20,000 trees to filter air and water. The strategies, implemented via existing local job and career programs, would protect the Richmond Parkway arterial, a wastewater facility and the neighborhood while helping provide critical habitat and supporting the largest eelgrass bed and oyster beds of San Francisco Bay.
  • Building extensive multi-use paths, tied to the San Francisco Bay Trail, that could include a soaring pedestrian overpass over Richmond Parkway for better shoreline access
  • Expanding an existing green mitigation fund to support resilience projects while continuing to grow local jobs.
  • Ssmall lot housing, a community land trust, social impact bonds and community infrastructure that combine to lower the cost of entry to home ownership for North Richmonders.

The ouR-HOME plan for North Richmond provides ideas and guideposts for other waterfront communities in Northern California and beyond. It would leverage Richmond’s share of the projected $35 billion estimated to be needed for the Bay Area’s climate change response, as well as existing public- and private-sector projects plus new sources of funding.

“The community’s vision for health and wealth opportunities are linked with existing and new program ideas into a roadmap that all partners can use to advance their work,” said Deb Guenther of Seattle- and San Francisco-based Mithun.

“Despite the current economic boom time, many people have been shut out of opportunities to make things better for their families and their communities,” said ouR-HOME’s report. “Yet North Richmond has proven to be adaptable and resilient. (The ouR-HOME plan) can shine a light on communities like North Richmond that are positioned to be a model for other communities.”

The Home Team was led by Mithun and included Biohabitats, Integral Group, Moffatt & Nichol, HR&A Advisors, Alta Planning + Design, Urban Biofilter and the Resilient Design Institute, working with the local advisory board.

“There’s a lot of legacy work that continues,” added Josh Bradt, an RbD advisor from the staff of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, which developed the North Shoreline Vision 20 years ago. “It’s great that this (ouR-HOME) has captured some of those projects because, when they are all layered, we are solving a lot of issues about access to the shoreline, about displacement and turnover in the community, about protecting creeks from being channelized concrete. This effort can elevate and change the story the outside world sees of North Richmond.”

“Community leaders in North Richmond have endured,” said Tim Mollette-Parks of Mithun. “They understand resilience and adaptation better than anyone because it’s their daily experience. They are ready to do this work.“

“The ouR-HOME plan and the entire Resilient by Design challenge informs regional conversations about what agencies can do to respond to the urgency and help people be prepared before disasters strike,” said Guenther.

“The traditional approach (of regional funding policy) sees a dichotomy between areas of development, and areas of conservation,” added Mithun’s Sandy Mendler. “We invite all of you to imagine Priority Resilience Areas targeted for ecosystem restoration TOGETHER with housing, jobs and transportation.”


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