In Sausalito, residents are already seeing the signs of rising sea levels during the winter as bike paths, bridges, and parking lots flood frequently.

The sight inspired Emily Schlickman and Anya Domlesky of XL, an innovation lab of Bay Area-based design firm SWA, to create a plan for buffering San Francisco's coastline property - and building more housing.

In a new speculative design called "Mega Margin," they map out how neighborhoods bordering the waterfront could retreat from rising water, with new parks at the water's edge. A ring of new buildings, safely set back, would be built to house many more people than a typical block in San Francisco, Berkeley, or San Mateo currently holds.

In the design, the designers modeled how much denser the ring of new housing could be. In San Francisco, where some existing neighborhoods have 12 housing units per acre, the Mega Margin would have 120 units per acre. In Marin, density would move from 7 units an acre to 35. In the South Bay, where sprawling suburban homes are the norm, the new ring of development would be 100 times denser than a typical neighborhood.

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