San Bruno finalizes emergency plan 

The city has completed its Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, which defines the various weather- or geologically-created risks citywide, opening the door for emergency federal funding in the event of natural disaster.

The emergency plan, which was last updated in 2003, includes a list of earthquake, fire, landslide and flooding information. The plan allows the city to qualify for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Several property-damaging landslides in the hills on the city’s west side, west of Interstate 280, occurred in 1998, but there have been norecent floods in that area. Fire Chief Dan Voreyer said the area continues to be monitored.

Though property damage can often be a trigger for homeowners to attempt legal action against their cities, City Attorney Pamela Thompson said that San Bruno only has a handful of pending claims filed against the city seeking funds for landslide damage.

During Thompson’s five years with the city, there was only one other claim seeking compensation for flood damage to businesses on El Camino Real, which was dismissed due to the weather being an "act of God."

Crestmoor Canyon, also located on the west side of town, is another high-risk spot, this time for fires. Voreyer said that the fire department will continue to cut back the brush in that area this fall and winter.

Officials are also looking more closely into possible tsunami risk. Should a 42-foot tsunami come in from the Golden Gate Bridge, the wave would become 10 feet tall by the time it hit San Bruno, according to a city report.

While property values can go down and insurance rates can go up in areas identified as high-risk, resident Robert Riechel said he was pleased that there is a plan in place that would allow him to make better decisions about what insurance and how much coverage to get if he knows the potential risks.

Riechel, who lives in the Belle Air neighborhood, said that his house flooded in 2002 and 2003 in heavy rain after a nearby drainage canal became filled to capacity. He said he does not have flood insurance at the moment, nor does he have pricey earthquake insurance.

Resident Alice Barnes, another Belle Air resident, said she remains concerned that her neighborhood would become cut off from vital emergency services if, for example, a train derailed and was blocking access to the eastern part of the neighborhood.

"I like to work with information," Riechel said. "It makes me more informed asa homeowner, whatever I decide to do."

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