Fill creationI think there isn’t a subject that comes up about Foster City as commonly as the subject of Landfill does. The town was essentially created in the early 1960’s from the marshland that was Brewer’s Island and 14 million cubic yards of material were deposited there to create the basis of what now is Foster City. On all of the standard disclosures a buyer will see, no matter where they buy, are mandatory geological reports that designate, among other things, an area’s “liquefaction potential”. Historic evidence has suggested that landfill on Bay mud is a danger of liquefying and every few years the U.S. Geological survey releases regional earthquake hazard maps that highlight areas they see as worry-some. The last one in 2006 labeled Foster City as “high risk”. Consequently folks tend to get concerned and Foster City has always had some kind of stigma as a result. What’s always confused me is that I tend to not hear so much concern about the large areas of San Mateo that are fill as well as Redwood Shores, which is just like Foster City. The fact is that in 1906, 1989 and 20 other earthquakes throughout the region which covers 9 counties and 180 cities, the chance of liquefaction-the result of a shake so hard that water and sand mix together and become sandy liquid-is one instance per every 1.5 miles. That puts Foster City at a chance for 2 or 3 instances. There were 3 documented instances in Foster City in 1989 and they were small. I’ve heard it said that there were less insurance claims made in Foster City in 1989 than in most other outlying, non landfill areas. It’s also been commonly reported that the engineered landfill that was done in the 60’s when Foster City was created made a huge difference in it’s durability and stability during an earthquake. The USGS maps do not take into account any difference between the type of fill in San Francisco’s Marina District, for example, and Foster City’s engineered fill. Here’s a link to the City’s website and their perspective on landfill in this area:



  1. Jennifer says:

    I guess this would fall under the category “Random Musings”, but the only article under that category right now is “Cat Lady”.

    Anyways, my random comment is regarding whether or not City of Foster City or City of Redwood City ever considered building a bridge or a road to connect the Redwood Shores area to Foster City. I work in Redwood Shores and Foster City is literally a hop, skip and jump away…over the lagoon. So the hassle (at 5pm to 6:30pm) to get onto Hwy 101 north, exit Hillsdale (after 10 to 15 minutes to go one exit) and head east (even worse with the traffic lights) during commute hours always conjures up the thought of “what if there was a road”. Just my random head thinking random thoughts again.

  2. I’ve heard this one for years. No doubt it would save lots of time and I’m not sure why it’s never been done…probably because nobody wants to pay for it.

  3. The way it is now means commuters are forced onto the highways, which for 90% of the traffic is a good thing. Otherwise, too many people would abuse it and drive through the residential areas to get to 92 and the SM bridge. It’s a small price to pay to keep the residential areas calm. A ped/bike bridge would be nice, though there is already a path, via the Island Parkway part of Belmont.

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