Planning Holistically in the Face of Climate Change

In 2018, Local Government Commission released a report entitled, Bringing Water and Land Use Together. This report focused on identifying the challenges -- as well as the opportunities -- around moving California toward a more holistic approach to managing water and land resources. As noted in ClimatePlan’s Strategic Direction, Californians are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. From wildfires, droughts, and flooding, it is critical that California starts to pursue integrated approaches around water and land use to address the challenges California faces.

This year, ClimatePlan is excited to partner with Local Government Commission on a project in the San Francisco Bay Area to implement the findings from Local Government Commission’s report and start integrating water and land use, so California can better adapt to the impacts from climate change. 

A large concrete dam stretches across the bottom of Hetch Hetchy reservoirWhy we need to better integrate water and land use

Right now, a large part of land-use and transportation planning is focused on how the region will grow.  How water is managed is a separate process from land-use and transportation planning, despite the fact that water is essential for communities to exist. The divide between land use and water management is causing failures such as limited funding, inequitable access to water, increases in water billing, and vulnerabilities to environmental disasters. 

This divide impacts low-income communities of color more than others because these residents often face disproportionate burdens in terms of disparities around water access, cost, quality, and flood and overflow risk. With climate change, this divide threatens to grow larger as access to safe, clean, and affordable water, an already finite resource, becomes even more limited. There are efforts to better integrate land use and water through planning efforts like locals plans and the integrated regional water management plans, but more needs to be done to make sure these plans turn into action.

What ClimatePlan will do to advance this work 

Working with Local Government Commission and other organizations across the state, ClimatePlan will develop a policy framework to help local and regional agencies identify policies and practices that integrate water into local and regional land use planning documents. 

ClimatePlan is excited to introduce Nicole Cheng, a CivicSpark Americorp fellow, who will be serving with us for 11 months. Nicole is originally from Colorado, and is passionate about working collaboratively to address the issues that intersect climate and health. Nicole will be working with ClimatePlan to develop the policy framework.

Right now, Nicole is reviewing existing policies that support equitable land-use and water integration, interviewing key experts in the field, and analyzing what are the strengths and areas of growth for these policies.  

Intake tower, Pardee Dam, Mokulumne RiverWhat ClimatePlan needs from you

Once the research is complete, Nicole will develop a collaborative process to develop a policy framework that has clear action steps to integrate land and water equitably. ClimatePlan is also eager to work with partners to see how this framework can shape land-use planning documents like Plan Bay Area 2050. 

If you work on issues related to land use and transportation or water in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nicole would love to connect with you. Please feel free to email her to set up a time to talk at [email protected].

Our Strategic Direction


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