2nd Annual West Coast Mayors Summit Addresses Infrastructure and Resiliency
Mayors discuss importance of upgrading and improving infrastructure in preparing for the next big West Coast disaster
Mayors gathered to discuss their shared commitment to upgrade and protect our cities’ aging infrastructure and improve resiliency for our communities against the threat of natural and human-made disasters. This is the second day of discussions at the 2nd annual West Coast Mayors Summit hosted in San Francisco. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro joined the conference on Tuesday to discuss housing, homelessness, resiliency, and how to further cities’ agenda in pursuing federal assistance.
On Tuesday, mayors met at the Exploratorium at Pier 15 to share their experiences dealing with deteriorating infrastructure and how to leverage local and federal funds to invest in improving underground pipelines, roads, seawalls, buildings and public facilities such as ports, airports, hospitals, etc. Mayors also discussed specific examples of projects that need immediate attention and how to work together to pursue federal funding for such projects.
“Disasters are a fact of life,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “As leaders of the West Coast we have an obligation to make our cities stronger and more resilient for our children and future generations and by working together we can achieve more for our residents.”
All West Coast cities convening in San Francisco are located in active seismic zones, share the same threat of earthquakes, tsunamis, and fires and need to invest heavily in upgrading their infrastructure to withstand the next big one. Apart from saving human lives and minimizing suffering, investing in pre-disaster mitigation makes economic sense. Studies have proven that every dollar spent on strengthening critical infrastructure will save the federal government at least five dollars in post disaster recovery. Historically proven, infrastructure projects improve communities, create jobs, and strengthen economies.
“All major cities need to prepare for the ‘new normal’ resulting from emerging long-term challenges, like drought and climate change,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “That is why we are focused on advancing critical infrastructure projects that promote sustainability and protect our residents from natural disasters.”
"It's not a question of if, but when, a major Cascadia Subduction Zone seismic event will strike our Northwest region,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Retrofitting our outdated, aging infrastructure is a fundamental public safety priority that will protect thousands of Portlanders lives."
The West Coast cities are considered economic hubs in their states which contribute over $3.2 trillion to the US economy (18% of the national GDP). A major disaster on the West Coast could disrupt the region and major sectors in other parts of the country. The cost of inaction is too expensive for the entire country to bear. Mayors agreed to a specific set of measures and recommendations that promote resiliency as an essential criteria to qualify for federal funding. Such criteria could be applied to any city in the USA and result in better utilization of federal funds.
“Seattle is a leader in developing and implementing cutting edge climate solutions that specifically address the disproportionate impact of climate change on communities of color,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “Looking forward, we will work with our new resiliency officer to ensure Seattle is prepared for the environmental challenges we continue to face, and that we keep cutting our emissions even as we grow.”
"An investment in infrastructure is an investment in people, and our collective goal is to ensure our cities are prepared for the threat of hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other natural disasters," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "In Honolulu, there’s an urgent need to prevent a 100 year flood of the Ala Wai Canal that would devastate surrounding communities like Waikiki. Our local businesses and residents need federal support to fund critical city and state projects that would help Honolulu survive a major disaster.”
Mayors signed a joint letter to President Elect Trump requesting allocation of $200 billion of his proposed infrastructure plan to West Coast cities. Such an investment will help cities improve their aging infrastructure, create jobs, improve economic stability, and more important reduce human loss of lives and suffering caused by natural disasters. Mayors also requested ongoing funding for the West Coast earthquake early warning system used in other countries such as Japan, Mexico, India, Italy, etc.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro joined the conference on Tuesday to discuss housing, homelessness, resiliency, and how to further cities’ agenda in pursuing federal assistance.