Port of San Francisco

Embarcadero Seawall Program and Waterfront Resilience Program

From Unknown to Ballot Box Winner 


The Embarcadero Seawall is a rock and concrete wall stretching three miles of San Francisco’s waterfront within the jurisdiction of the Port of San Francisco. Built over 100 years ago, the Seawall is the foundation for a waterfront that welcomes 24 million visitors annually. It supports over $100 billion in assets and annual economic activity, key utility and transportation infrastructure, and critical emergency response services. It is also vulnerable to urgent seismic risks and increasing flood risks. In 2017, the Port of San Francisco hired Civic Edge to lead a team of subcontractors on a broad, citywide educational campaign to raise awareness about the Seawall ahead of a $425 million bond measure for safety improvements being placed on theNovember 2018  ballot.


Our team and project partners focused on building up relationships between the Port, local businesses, city leaders, educational institutions, and community members to personalize the outreach and create a sense of personal investment in a largely unknown, unseen piece of infrastructure. A poll in spring 2017 showed just 9 percent of San Franciscans were familiar with the Embarcadero Seawall. Communications focused on presenting the importance of the Seawall to the entire city, extending far beyond the waterfront.   

From the Seawall to Waterfront-wide Resilience

After more than a year of outreach around the Embarcadero Seawall, the bond measure for strengthening the Seawall passed with 82 percent voter approval. Civic Edge continues to work closely with the Port on communications and community engagement for the Waterfront Resilience Program, which works to ensure the 7.5 miles of waterfront under the Port’s jurisdiction, and its critical regional and citywide assets, are resilient to hazards and increasingly accessible to everyone it serves. This work directly connects to historical social and economic equities and matters of environmental justice.  

By the Numbers

  • 82 percent voter bond approval 
  • 2 communications awards
  • Tens of thousands reached through community engagement since 2017

Project Expertise

  • Pre-bond messaging campaign
  • Branding
  • Community and stakeholder engagement strategy
  • Collateral and materials development
  • Innovative partnerships