San Bruno blast victims learn how much they will receive from donations 

Victims of the San Bruno blast whose houses were destroyed will receive the largest shares of the $395,000 in donations collected, according to a plan approved Tuesday night.

Under pressure from some residents to hand out the donations as soon as possible, the City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a plan for the city-controlled fund created after contributions came in from all over the world.

Starting next week, the city plans to give $6,000 checks to residents of each of the 38 homes that had to be demolished after a Pacific Gas & Electric natural-gas line exploded Sept. 9. The blast and subsequent fire killed eight people.

Residents of 17 homes that sustained moderate damage will receive $4,000, while residents of 45 other homes with minor damage will be given $1,000. Victims have the ability to opt out. The remaining $58,000 will be reserved for unanticipated needs and will be spent within six months with public input.  

“This is not a lot of money,” Councilman Ken Ibarra told the audience. “It’s a nice step in helping the recovery and we’re here to see that your lives do get repaired to some extent.”

The plan was drawn up by Councilmembers Michael Salazar and Irene O’Connell, whom other members of the panel praised for their work.

“I think it’s probably the best they could do with what they have,” Tina Pellegrini, whose home was destroyed, said after the meeting. “There’s no precedence for this.”

Jose Alvarado, whose house on Glenview Drive was destroyed, said he is grateful for the donations but is concerned the money will not go far once it is divided among four families that lived in his house.

Some had criticized the council for not acting sooner. Salazar offered a personal apology “to anyone who feels our delay in getting [the donations] out may have caused them any hardship. That certainly was not our intention.”

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Shaun Bishop

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