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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assessing the Feasibility of Creek Daylighting in San Francisco, Part I: A Synthesis of Lessons Learned from Existing Urban Daylighting Projects


The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is investigating the feasibility of daylighting historical urban creeks to mitigate flooding and combined sewer overflows in an attractive and multi-functional way in San Francisco. Examining the successes and shortcomings of existing creek daylighting projects in similar cities elsewhere in the world can provide valuable insight for potential future daylighting projects in San Francisco. The following daylighting projects share similar hydrologic, geographic, and/or urban characteristics with San Francisco: Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Albany, California; Seattle, Washington; and Zurich, Switzerland. In general, the projects in the United States were initiated by citizens, while in Zurich a city-wide daylighting program was the primary impetus. The projects reviewed tended to be located in the most economically, politically, or geographically feasible areas, representing “low-hanging fruit.” They were most often sized to accommodate the 100 year storm event. Capital costs ranged from $30-3,000 per linear foot. Community acceptance varied, but generally increased over time. In the US examples, a general lack of sufficient monitoring and maintenance pervaded

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