Members voted 6-1 at the May 22 meeting in favor of the study, with council member Tom Means opposed. City Manager Dan Rich said the study would allow the city to move "expeditiously" in planning a response to major changes in sea level rather than waiting for more regional approaches to provide information.
"Nobody is going to build fortification for the city of Mountain View against the sea," said Mayor Mike Kasperzak. "As far as the study goes, we need to do it, it's that simple."
By 2067 the Bay could rise as much as 26 inches, according to the National Research Council. That would flood parts of Google's North Bayshore campus out to San Antonio Road and East Charleston Road, according to a map created by the Public Works Department. By 2100, the Bay could rise anywhere from 6 to 54 inches, the NRC also reports.
Some council members expressed concern that the city would be duplicating regional efforts to deal with the rising level of the Bay, but city staff members said it was unlikely that Mountain View would be studied in detail by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission or the Army Corps of Engineers. Mountain View would be a low priority, said Jacqueline Solomon, deputy public works director.
"I was worried about duplicating efforts made by other bodies," said council member Ronit Bryant. "But from staff's answers I'm convinced we need to get information in a detailed fashion."
The Bay levees protecting the city were built only to protect salt ponds and are not certified by FEMA, although a set of levees along Stevens Creek north of Crittenden Lane have been, according to a city report.
Bryant added that the solution the the problem would likely be a regional one.
"I don't think the solutions will be Mountain View protecting Mountain View — we'll build a little wall around Mountain View and we'll be protected," Bryant said.
The rising sea may require more than just building better levees along the Bay.
"When the Bay rises it comes up the creeks and floods over the creeks significantly," said council member Jac Siegel, referring to Permanente and Stevens Creek.
The study is one of three that council members have approved to figure out how much money the city can redirect to local schools from the Shoreline Fund, a special tax district which funds infrastructure projects and maintenance north of Highway 101. The others will examine the ongoing costs of transportation needs and landfill maintenance north of Highway 101.
An outside consultant will be recruited to conduct the study and would be paid as much as $300,000. Another $65,000 goes to an outside manager for the project, $50,000 is for contingency fees and the rest goes towards city management and administration of the project.