As the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake approaches next week, San Francisco supervisors are taking steps to make sure The City is ready for the next big one.

Three days after a 3.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the Colma coast,  Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the Sunset District, introduced a resolution Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to declare state of urgency to complete expansion of The City’s Auxiliary Firefighting Water System into unprotected neighborhoods.

Mar said at a press conference at City Hall:

“Most of The City’s residential neighborhoods in the west side and southeast remain unprotected. This includes the Richmond and Sunset districts, Ocean View, Merced, Ingleside, Bayview/Hunter’s Point, Visitacion Valley.”

The resolution calls upon The City to provide a comprehensive plan to expand the water system into currently unserved neighborhoods by 2034. expanding the San Francisco Dire Department’s firefighting equipment such as having more portable hose tenders for neighborhoods who are protected by the water system.

Additionally, the resolution would require annual progress reporting to the Board of Supervisors and requests that city agencies explore feasibility of a a salt water pump installation on the The City’s west side.

Mar acknowledged that The City has taken a number of actions to protect homes from a major earthquake, including a soft-story retrofit requirement, but said there is more to be done.

Mar said:

“However, one very critical (aspect) of disaster preparedness that has not been adequately addressed is the threat the of widespread fires following an earthquake.”

Mar reminded the crowd that the high-pressure Auxiliary Water Supply System was created in response to to fires that nearly destroyed The City after the 1906 earthquake.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Supervisor Gordon Mar says The CIty needs to expand its Auxiliary Firefighting Water System citywide during a press conference in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, October 8, 2019.

A Civil Grand Jury report released earlier this year titled “Act Now Before It Is Too Late: Aggressively Expand and Enhance Our High-Pressure Emergency Firefighting Water System.” The report highlighted vulnerable neighborhoods where the water system does not currently reach.

The Civil Grand Jury tasked city officials to expand the water system and inventory of hose tenders, — a smaller fire truck that can haul gallons of water from far away.

Supervisors Sandra Fewer and Ahsha Safai cosponsored Mar’s resolution in partnership with San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee.

Li Miao Lovett, a Sunset District resident and leader of a neighborhood group called D4ward, said expand of the water system into the Sunset because is important due to the concentration of school-age children and seniors, who are most at risk during a major catastrophe.

Lovett said:

“We really have to take into account what happens in the event of a catastrophe when the next big one hits.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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