The watershed and floodplain of San Francisquito Creek encompasses approximately 50 square miles from the Santa Cruz Mountains to San Francisco Bay. Historically, the creek has divided jurisdictions and communities that have viewed it as a liability. And, historically, the communities surrounding the creek have not had an organization through which they could accomplish their mutual objectives.
Following years of effort to address environmental issues, and a 45-year flood in 1998 that damaged approximately 1,700 properties, five local agencies from two counties—the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto, the County of San Mateo, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District—joined together to create a new regional government agency, the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA). Elected officials represent these jurisdictions on the SFCJPA Board, the Authority employs an executive director and two professional staff, and much of its project work is done by consultants.
With the goals of transforming San Francisquito Creek from a divisive liability into a unifying asset—and of addressing the cities’ flooding, environmental and recreational concerns along San Francisco Bay—the SFCJPA plans, designs, and implements projects from the upper watershed to tidal marshes.
The Authority’s multi-jurisdictional approach to solving problems is reflected in these projects. They serve the interrelated ecosystem, recreational, and disaster protection needs of the region, and are funded by multiple local, state, and federal partners. Since the SFCJPA was formed in 1999, it has drawn upon the interest and considerable expertise of local residents, including researchers working for the largest landowner within the watershed, Stanford University.