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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Blackberry Creek Daylighting Project, Berkeley : Ten-Year Post-Project Appraisal

  • Author(s): Gerson, Stephanie Karla
  • Wardani, Jane
  • Niazi, Shiva
  • et al.

Blackberry Creek drains a 0.3-square-mile watershed, flowing from the northeastern hills of Berkeley, California into the Marin Creek culvert and then to the San Francisco Bay. A 200-foot reach running under Thousand Oaks Elementary School was daylighted in 1995 by Wolfe Mason Associates in collaboration with the Urban Creeks Council. The goals were to provide an outdoor science lab for the school and an alternative to a culvert with a history of flooding.

Post-project appraisals conducted in 1996 and 2000 focused on geomorphic and biological aspects, and found sufficient flood control capacity and greater density of riparian vegetation than envisioned in project design. We conducted a PPA ten years after project completion, surveying the longitudinal profile and two cross sections of the creek. We also looked at historical rainfall data and identified a 10-year event in 2002. Comparing our data to previous PPAs, channel flood capacity and gradient appear stable although the channel itself may have migrated within the high bankfull. Bank vegetation has become even denser, reflecting a lack of maintenance.

Previous PPAs documented tension relating to perceived use and design among diverse groups such as the School, the Neighborhood Association, and a Tai Chi group that used the park and tot lot. To get a sense of community perception and use ten years post-project, we interviewed the Thousand Oaks science teacher, past and current presidents of the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association, and the chair of the Urban Creeks Council at the time of daylighting. Today, the school is using the site as a regular science lab and the initial tension seems to have dissipated into general public acceptance.

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