Green Streets of Alameda

Alameda County is required to put in place a certain number of green streets projects as part of the Regional Municipal Stormwater Permit. However, the county has many more such projects than legally required. Some are profiled below.

More Green Infrastucture

A big “Thank You” to Friends of Five Creeks for contributing photos and details for several of the projects listed here. Their Blue-Green Building website offers descriptions of many more Green Streets projects throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Harbor Bay Parkway

Several businesses on Alameda’s Harbor Bay Island feature landscaping where rainwater running off roofs is captured by drought-tolerant plantings that surround the buildings, while water washed off the parking lots and truck delivery areas is detained and filtered by the adjacent vegetated ditches.

Click here for more details and photos.

UC Berkeley University Village

When UC Berkeley’s student-family housing was recently replaced, upgrades included landscaped areas. Now low-lying areas such as swales and rainwater detention ponds collect and absorb runoff from the street and parking areas, lessening the amount of pollution that enters nearby creeks.

Click here for more details and photos.

Allston Way

Allston Way in Berkeley is the first public street in the Bay Area to be retrofitted with permeable interlocking concrete pavers from curb to curb. The small joints between the pavers are filled with gravel which allows stormwater to infiltrate through the street surface into a reservoir area of larger stone below and then into the native soil.

Codornices Creek

As part of the recent restoration of Codornices Creek on the Berkeley-Albany border, curbside extensions were added to collect street runoff and filter out some pollutants before the water reaches the creek. Raised storm drains inside the planted areas prevent flooding during heavy rains. A pedestrian/bicycle path adjacent to the restored creek is permeable asphalt, letting rain soak into soil.

Click here for more details and photos.

UC Berkeley Wellman Courtyard

Permeable pavement can be functional and attractive like the pavers in UC Berkeley’s Wellman Court. Set in a sand base, they let rainwater soak in through the joints, filtering out some pollutants and letting some water absorb into the native clay soil beneath. An underground perforated-pipe takes heavy flows to the storm drain, preventing floods.

Click here for more details and photos.

Castro Valley Boulevard

This large-scale streetscape project converted a conventional thoroughfare into a green streets project, incorporating permeable pavement and areas with native and drought-tolerant plantings to filter and absorb rainwater. Under some parking areas, underground structures (“silva cells”) prevent soil from compacting, thereby maintaining its water absorption capacity and enabling large street trees to grow.

Click here for more details and photos.

Castro Valley Public Library

Rainwater runoff from the Castro Valley library ends up in nearby Castro Creek. To prevent pollution, rainwater washing off the roof and pavement is directed into sandy trenches that are topped with cobbles. These swales absorb and filter the water before it drains to the creek. Raised stormdrains prevent flooding.

Click here for more details and photos.

Dublin Ranch Area – Grafton Street

In the Dublin Ranch area—a very large development with thousands of homes—big, engineered swales help filter and slow runoff from road and subdivision. Planted with native vegetation, these large, artificial waterways replace seasonal creeks that once existed here.

Click here for more details and photos.

Adeline Street at 40th to 47th Street

Curbs were extended with gently sloped, planted areas that capture rain water running off the street, filter it and allow it to absorb into the ground. The curb plantings also beautify the area and shorten street crossings, making them safer for pedestrians.

Click here for more details and photos.

West Elm Green Roof

At the West Elm furniture store in Emeryville, about a third of the roof area is covered with tough, drought-tolerant, low-growing plants. Special soil, held in place by egg-carton-like plastic trays retains rainwater during wet periods.

Click here for more details and photos.

The “DUST” Marsh (Demonstration Urban Stormwater Treatment)

This 55-acre constructed wetland west of Fremont and Newark was built in 1983 to test how well an artificial marsh can filter rainwater runoff from streets before it enters the Bay. Both the vegetation in Candall Creek that carries water to the marsh and the marsh itself have been found to reduce pollution significantly.

Click here or here for more details and photos.

Permeable Asphalt Parking Lot

Although this parking lot on Bay Street in Fremont’s Irvington district looks like any other, it is very different. Pores in the asphalt surface allow rainwater to seep in and pass through layers of rock, gravel and specialized fabric. This process traps pollutants before the water reaches the aquifer below.

Click here for more details and photos.

HAYWARD (incl. Unincorporated Hayward)
Cherryland Community Center

Currently in the planning stages, the Cherryland Community Center in unincorporated Hayward will feature a permeable parking lot and areas filled with native, drought-tolerant plants to collect and absorb rainwater. Completion is projected for July 2017.

Click here for more details and sketches.

Stanley Blvd Streetscape Improvement Project

Located between Livermore and Pleasanton, Stanley Blvd is a high-volume arterial street. Along a 3-miles stretch, a 4-foot wide trench filled with California native plants helps slow the flow of water washing off the street and filters it as it absorbs into the ground. The plants also improve aesthetics and provide wildlife habitat.

Click here for more details and photos.

Livermore Offices and Industry

A number of companies in Livermore have integrated green streets elements into their landscaping. At the headquarters of FormFactor, roof drains funnel water to landscaping instead of stormdrains, and the parking lot features swales to collect and absorb water washing off the pavement.

Click here for more examples and photos.

Lake Merritt

During the remodeling of Lake Merritt’s historic boathouse (now Lake Chalet Restaurant) in 2009, parking lots were moved away from the lake and rainwater-friendly landscaping installed. Depressions forming swales and rain gardens now slow and filter water washing off the paved areas before it enters the lake. A utility shed sports a mini-green roof planted with native yarrow.

Click here for more details and photos.

Lion Creek Crossings

Completed in 2010, this mixed-use development south of the Coliseum includes affordable housing as well as newly created, extensive creek and wetland habitat. To prevent polluted rainwater runoff from entering Leona Creek, shallow swales have been installed between the developed areas and the creek.

Click here or here for more details and photos.

Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center

Slopes often lead to erosion and even land slides, especially during heavy rains. At the county’s Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro, a planted trench running parallel to the parking lot aims to slow water running down the slope. It also filters and absorbs runoff from the pavement. The property also features several rain gardens.

Decoto Green Streets

Union City has replaced old, flood-prone infrastructure along H Street, and other streets in the Decoto neighborhood, with raingardens, permeable pavers and planted curb extensions. The renovated infrastructure is designed to collect rainwater washed off the street, so it can be absorbed into the soil, while beautifying the neighborhood and enhancing pedestrian safety.

Click here to view a video about these improvements (this link takes you to Union City’s website).

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