Thank you for running detailed articles regarding the Richmond and Sunset districts’
shortcomings in addressing post-earthquake fire risks.
In sum, there are no high-pressure and secure water lines in the Richmond with which
to fight post-quake fires. Existing water systems are likely inadequate.
There is a proposal to build a very expensive new water system (estimated at $600
million cost). However, that proposal would necessarily be disruptive in its construction
and only available to parts of the west side. I suggest a more sensible approach.
First, rather than focus primarily on fire suppression, I suggest focusing on
fire risk. Fire risk stems most significantly from natural gas and electricity, and
potentially from incidental and random causes. Yet, the technology exists to install
instant and automatic shut-off devices on all natural gas flows on all forms
of pipelines, from large utility pipes to residential pipes. These shut-off devices
can be installed immediately, at very little cost, and without disruption.
Similarly, electricity can be instantly and automatically shut off in the event of an
earthquake. Shutting off gas and electricity would likely take us 99 percent of
the way to preventing the cause of fires, and the shut-offs would only need to be
maintained until utilities can be checked and safely restored. Further, there should
be adequate existing bond monies to cover the installation costs of these
shut-off devices. Then, even if there were a few localized fires they could be addressed
by improving the existing cistern system.
By simply installing more cisterns, with ancillary high-pressure pumps, any remaining
concerns can be solved. Cistern installations are only locally disruptive, are a known
technology and are demonstrated to serve for local-area fires. The cistern issue of high-
pressure pumping can be addressed by simply installing
undergrounded pumps alongside the cisterns, with fuel tanks to ensure independent
I am hopeful that our elected officials will recognize the risks at stake, and then
consider this sensible suggestion for quick, inexpensive, readily achievable
and perfectly effective solutions.
Up, up and away!
State Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Phil Ting introduced SB- 827 on Jan. 3, the
“transit-rich housing bonus” bill. The proposed law allows for buildings variably
between one-quarter and one-half of a mile from “high-quality transit corridors” (HQTC)
or “major transit stops” (MTS) to be as tall as 85-feet, or about eight-and-one-half
These buildings will be exempt from local codes; policies; the housing element; plans,
including existing density in the SF Planning Code; minimum parking requirements;
design standards that reduce unit count; resolutions; and regulations.
In short, all local control will be gone and neighbors will not have a say.
The HQTCs and MTSs are determined by transit service that have a “frequency
of service interval of 15 minutes or less during morning and afternoon peak commute
periods.” Currently, SB-827 is being taken up by the state Transportation and Housing
Committee and the Governance and Finance Committee.
Many residential parcels, especially those in low-density areas such as RH-1
and RH-2, which share property lines with SB-827-approved transit-rich bonus
projects could be negatively impacted.
Neighborhoods may later get a “creep” effect, which would enable all buildings
to rise to taller dimensions.
The public can track SB-827’s status at the website at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
Voice your opinions to Wiener and Ting at the websites at
While it was certainly interesting to learn about the genesis of San Francisco’s sanctuary
city policies in Quentin Kopp’s January article entitled “disgraceful sanctuary city laws,”
he has not succeeded in swaying the opinion of this San Franciscan.
At the end of the day, there is no rationale for deporting individuals who are gainfully
employed and contributing to local and state economies. In my experience, the vast
majority of so-called illegal immigrants are honest, hard-working family men and
women who pose no danger to their communities. On the contrary, their efforts often
enrich those communities.
Mr. Kopp relies heavily on the Steinle case to support his argument that San
Francisco’s sanctuary city policies are dangerous. I have to ask, why distinguish
between criminals who were born here and those who emigrated from elsewhere
in the world – legally or illegally? To make such a distinction is patently racist.
After all, a criminal is a criminal. His citizenshipstatus and national origin are of
Categories: Letters to the Editor