Local Government Profile
"San Francisco has worked tirelessly to increase our overall resilience by investing in our physical infrastructure, such as our water system, and increasing the capacity of our residents and communities to respond to and rapidly recover from disasters"
Hazard and vulnerability profile
Global Climate Change:
San Francisco is located in a coastal climate zone and has recognized the growing
threat it faces with global climate change. San Francisco is already a leader in
sustainability, having been named the greenest city in North America by Siemens
Green City Index in 2011. Despite these achievements, San Francisco still faces the
hazards that are connected with global climate change
San Francisco is exposed to several seismic hazards from both known mapped fault
systems and undiscovered systems. The primary risks in the area come from the
San Andreas fault system and the Hayward fault system; both of which are strike
slip fault zones. There is a 63 percent chance that a severe earthquake (Magnitude
6.7 or greater) will strike the area in the next 30 years
CCSF’s primary tsunami risk does not come from any of the local fault lines as
they are all strike-slip. The threat comes from subduction zones elsewhere along
the Pacific basin and Alaska. San Francisco has experienced tsunami run-up an
average of once every 28 years, but the height of these run-ups is generally only a
few inches. Despite the history of small tsunamis, the City recognizes that it is still
at risk for a potentially large inundation.
CCSF’s climate has a cyclic relationship with droughts and an average recurrence
interval between 4 and 10 years. Droughts can occur in both summer and winter
and will affect the water sources for the entire area. Droughts of more than 3 years
are rare and San Francisco has never had a federally declared disaster for a drought,
but the State of California has. Nevertheless, the City recognizes that droughts can
be a serious concern and that global climate change may be increasing their
CCSF faces the risk of both coastal flooding and storm water ponding. The city can
expect to see coastal flooding begin at 3 feet of inundation with the likelihood of
recurrence every 7 to 8 years given strong El Nino conditions. Storm water ponding
is generally only a few inches but heavy rainfalls can increase it to greater than 4
feet. This type of flood occurs primarily in winter with heavy rainfall and its
recurrence rate is nearly every year. The City is researching sea level rise and
adaptation measures to improve its management of coastal flooding in response to
global climate change.
CCSF’s primary risk from landslides stems from seismic activity but the city also
faces regular landslide risks due to the geographic nature of the area. Landslides
generally occur during the wet winter months after high levels of precipitation and
typically encompass less than 1,500 feet. San Francisco can expect to experience
weather related landslides every 7 to 10 years.
CCSF has been devastated by major fires several times. The most severe was in the
wake of the 1906 earthquake. The resulting fire killed hundreds of people and
directly caused the destruction of 25,000 buildings. San Francisco’s high urban
population density, the second highest in he United States, increases its likelihood
of large scale fires. The City experiences 5 to 6 fires of two-alarm or larger a year.
The greatest urban fire risk is associated with the likelihood of a severe earthquake.
Disaster Risk Reduction Activities
Here is a brief overview of progress by the municipality of San Francisco on meeting the Ten Essentials. You can learn more about their initiative on each essential in the document attached: San Francisco Nomination Form
Essential 1: Organisation and coordination
CCSF has invested in organizational infrastructure, both inside and outside of
government, to consistently assess the threats of major hazards to the City as well
as deploy strategies that will mitigate their impact. In addition to supporting the
private sector’s efforts to be more resilient, the City also actively supports
programs that involve resident-run groups in the emergency management process.
CCSF supports programs that nurture a citywide narrative emphasizing readiness
amongst all relative agencies, departments, and cohorts.
Essential 2: Assign a budget
CCSF assigns an ongoing budget for disaster risk reduction that includes staff,
programs, and projects. The City also utilizes programs that help get the general
public and the private sector involved in risk reduction. Furthermore, CCSF
considers emergency planning and risk reduction in its Capital Investment Plan as
well is in the day-to-day operations in several city agencies.
Essential 3: Prepare risk assessments
CCSF maintains and updates a wide variety of data on hazards and vulnerabilities
that it uses to develop policies and operations plans. The City makes the majority
of its plans available to the public through various websites and it discusses aspects
of the plans through its community partnerships.
Essential 4: Invest and maintain critical infrastructure that reduces risk
CCSF regularly invests in and maintains its critical infrastructure in areas such as
building retrofits and water and sewer system updates. The City also invests in
reducing its CO2 footprint as well as energy security and independence.
Essential 5: Assess the safety of all schools and health facilities
CCSF has strict principles around the safety of health facilities and schools. The
City actively assesses the risks that buildings face and continually upgrades them to
Essential 6: Apply and enforce realistic, risk compliant building regulation and land use planning principles
The nature of high priority risks in CCSF has spurred the ongoing creation and
enforcement of realistic risk compliant building regulations and land use planning
principles. The City has an exceptionally dense population and does not
specifically identify safe land use for low-income citizens but instead analyzes the
safety of land use on a citywide basis.
Essential 7: Ensure that education programmes and training on DRR
CCSF works to ensure that a broad set of educational programs are in place in the
community. The City recognizes that no single avenue of education will reach the
entire population, so it creates a suite of innovative and creative programs to reach
the broadest audience possible.
Essential 8: Protect ecosystems and natural buffers to mitigate floods
CCSF works to protect its limited natural ecosystems, primarily along the coastline, to mitigate the effects of flood and storm surge. The City is also advancing
programs and projects to combat the effects of global climate change and sea level rise.
Essential 9: Install early warning systems and emergency management capacities
CCSF manages and operates an advanced citywide early warning system. The City
also invests in regular public preparedness drills and information outreach.
Essential 10: Recovery and Rebuilding communities
CCSF includes the needs of survivors in its ongoing emergency plans. The City is
in the process of developing plans that help to expedite the recovery process of
survivors and businesses in the event of a disaster.
The documents have been posted as received. The designations employed do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area, or of its authorities.