What’s in a Safety Element?
The Safety Element is a required element of the General Plan by the State. The goal of the Safety Element is to reduce the potential short and long-term risk of death, injuries, property damage, and economic and social dislocation resulting from fires, floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, climate change, and other hazards. State law requires jurisdictions to update the Safety Element upon the next revision of the Housing Element. The major hazards listed in Environmental Hazards Element in Hayward include:
- Sea Level Rise
- Urban Wildfire
- Hazardous Materials
- Airport Hazards
- Noise Hazards
This Element is closely coordinated with the City’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) which is a federally mandated plan to reduce exposure hazards and ensure eligibility for federal disaster preparedness and relief funds. Notable hazards in Hayward listed by the LHMP Include:
- Floods, Tsunamis and Sea Level Rise
- Hazardous Materials
Safety Elements can analyze and address additional topics, such as air quality and rail hazards.
What is the chance of an earthquake?
On the morning of October 21, 1868, the Southern segment of the Hayward Fault ruptured, triggering a M7.0 earthquake that was felt as far away as Nevada. Nearly every building in the Hayward area was destroyed or significantly damaged in the earthquake, including some buildings that were rolled onto their sides by the ground movement. The 1868 Hayward Quake was known as the “great San Francisco earthquake” until 1906.
The Bay Area is in the heart of earthquake country. Major faults cross through all nine Bay Area counties. Every point within the Bay Area is within 30 miles of an active fault, and 97 of the 101 cities in the Bay Area are within 10 miles of an active fault. The Hayward Fault crosses through the city and generally runs parallel and within a few hundred feet of Mission Boulevard. Other potentially active faults within Hayward include the Chabot Fault, the Carlos Bee Fault, and several adjacent and secondary faults. As a result of its location and geologic setting, the City of Hayward is subject to a variety of seismic and geologic hazards, including fault rupture, strong ground shaking, liquefaction, and landslides. In addition, segments of the City could flood if an earthquake generates a tsunami or causes an up-stream dam to fail. The City’s primary concerns after a large earthquake would be:
- Loss of life and injury due to infrastructure failure and building collapse
- Water main breaks due to aging waterline infrastructure
- Water, electrical, sewer, transportation, and communication systems failure
- Fire due to ruptured gas lines and infrastructure failure
- Roadway failure
- Need for mass shelter, food and water supply, and sanitation
- Ability of local hospitals and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to treat high volume of critical patients
Is Hayward at risk of flooding?
Potential flooding hazards in Hayward are associated with major storm events, including shoreline areas and upland areas located along streams, creeks, and drainage ways. The geographic extent of local flood hazards is anticipated to increase in the next century as a result of rising sea levels caused by global warming. Extreme weather conditions caused by global warming could also increase flooding risks during major storms.
Hayward’s shoreline, while protected by extensive wetlands, is at risk of inundation from tsunamis, rare floods, and rising sea levels. Infrastructure along the shoreline will be more frequently, and eventually permanently, inundated as the sea level rises. In especially severe floods and at sea levels above 5 feet, residential and industrial parts of South Hayward adjacent to Don Edwards National Wildlife Preserve and Ward Creek are also at risk of flooding.
The City of Hayward has participated in the National Flood Insurance Program since March 1980. In 1981, the City Council adopted the Flood Plain Management Ordinance which promoted the public health, safety, and general welfare of Hayward residents and property owners. The ordinance requires the City to continue to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and regulates and restricts land use and development in flood hazard areas to prevent uses that are dangerous or increase flood hazard.
How will climate change impact Hayward?
Climate change is a change in global and regional climate patterns, attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. Climate change is projected to continue affecting Hayward. Hayward is expected to experience the following climate hazards:
- Sea Levels, which are impacted by global warming, are projected to rise by at least 55 inches during the next 100 years.
- As sea levels rise, the Hayward shoreline, as well as industrial, commercial, and residential areas along creeks and drainage ways, will become more and more vulnerable to water inundation during both normal high tides and flooding during major storm events. If unmitigated, rising sea levels have the potential to inundate the open space and recreational resources along the shoreline, and flood nearby industrial, commercial, and residential areas.
- Climate change is likely to increase the number and severity of future droughts in Hayward. The cumulative impact of climate change impacts will result in drier conditions and will alter the timing and efficiency of Hayward’s water supply. An increase in temperature and a reduction in snowpack are the two most direct effects of climate change that will result in a drier state with fewer natural water resources than historically have been available. This causes fire hazards to increase because drought conditions are so high. It also can mean a longer fire season, drier vegetation, and hot days. Additionally, drought reduces the water supplies available to fight wildfires, leading to larger and more extended fires.
- More extreme and more frequent severe weather events, including heavier rains, which could increase storm flooding from backed-up storm drains.
- More frequent and higher temperature extreme heat days. Climate change is expected to generate an increase in temperature. Statewide temperatures could increase anywhere from 3 to 10.5 degrees depending on CO2 emission levels, which lead to more frequent, hotter days throughout the year. Cal Adapt predicts that a city in California may experience an average of 20 – 80 extreme heat days a year. This is an increase from the Bay Area historically experiencing 4 extreme heat days a year.
How is the City preparing for these risks?
Most of the mitigation efforts in Hayward are aimed at identifying, reducing, planning for, and avoiding potential impacts associated with climate-induced sea-level rise.
Hayward Area Shoreline Planning Agency (HASPA)
The City of Hayward is a member agency of the Hayward Area Shoreline Planning Agency, also known as HASPA, which coordinates agency planning activities and adopts and carries out policies for the improvement of the Hayward Shoreline for future generations. In 2010, HASPA expanded its mission to include planning for sea-level rise.
In 2010, HASPA published ” A Preliminary Study of the Effects of Sea Level Rise on the Resources of the Hayward Shoreline.” The study provided a preliminary assessment of the possible impacts and strategies to manage the effects of sea-level rise on both the natural and developed resources.
From 2011 through 2013, HASPA partnered with the Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Program to conduct a Resilience Study which further assesses vulnerabilities and identifies potential adaptation strategies.
Building upon these previous studies, HASPA began work on the Hayward Regional Shoreline Adaptation Master Plan in 2019 and it was adopted in early 2021. This grant-funded project provided a suite of mitigation actions and policy recommendations to improve HASPA’s capacity to plan for, prepare for, mitigate against, and adapt to sea-level rise. The project’s focus was on protecting the most important natural and community assets along the shoreline. For more information, please visit https://www.hayward-ca.gov/shoreline-master-plan.
In 2021, the City of Hayward, along with the East Bay Regional Park District, and the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District adopted the Hayward Regional Shoreline Adaptation Master Plan. The Plan, available here, identifies a variety of structural and non-structural adaptation strategies that may be implemented over the next 30 to 40 years to make the shoreline more resilient to the effects of sea-level rise
Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP)
Hayward has also adopted a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan which was adopted in 2016. The LHMP focuses on reducing risks before disaster strikes by considering hazards in land use and building decisions, and by proactively mitigating hazards where they already exist.
The Hayward Fire Department is also proving Community provides Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP) training. CERT is designed to improve disaster preparedness at the neighborhood level, while PEP is aimed at individual households. The City has also developed preparedness tips for special needs groups such as children and the elderly. Full-scale disaster simulation exercises are conducted regularly with City staff and representatives from other agencies. Such exercises are essential to maintain effective performance and identify where changes in emergency plans may be needed. These plans identify known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. The City is embarking on an update to the LHMP which is in progress.
Community Emergency Response Training (CERT)
The City maintains a Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) team through the Fairview Fire Protection District and Hayward Hills and Five Canyons CERT Training.
The City maintains a comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, Energy Assurance Plan, and emergency preparedness kits, which can be deployed during a natural disaster or emergency event.
As part of the Safety Element update, new programs will be identified to prepare for the effects of climate change. Check out the Get Involved page to find out about upcoming workshops and events.