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Prop. B would fix emergency water system, move police command center

SF Public Press
 — Jun 7 2010 - 3:55pm

San Francisco voters will decide Tuesday whether they want to spend $412 million to to upgrade the city’s deteriorating emergency water system used to fight fires and to build a new police emergency command center.

The bond will help the city prepare for the next big earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey says there is a 66 percent of a magnitude 6.7 or higher earthquake striking the Bay Area in the next 30 years.

The emergency water system, called the Auxiliary Water Supply System, was built in 1913 in response to the 1906 earthquake, and is deteriorating. The system is used by firefighters to fight multiple alarm fires.

Pumping Station No. 1 at Second and Townsend streets, Pumping Station No. 2 in Fort Mason at the end of Van Ness Avenue, Twin Peaks Reservoir, Jones Street Tank and Ashbury Heights Tank are all part of the emergency system.

According to the Fire Department’s website, inspections and assessments of the AWSS core facilities have shown deterioration, seismic deficiencies, and corrosion due to rust, poor foundations, leakages, and outdated technologies. Some $104 million of the bond measure would go to fixing the water system.

Another $65 million would go toward retrofitting fire stations that need to be seismically upgraded and other health and safety improvements.

The biggest portion of Proposition B — $243 million — would go into building a new police command center at Third and Mission Rock streets. The current San Francisco Police Department command center is at 850 Bryant St., inside the Hall of Justice.

According to a 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article, there have been at least three inspections of the building since 1992, and the result is that the Hall of Justice is unsafe. If a strong earthquake occurred, the police command center would be unusable.

Construction of the new headquarters would start approximately in 2012.

Although city, police and fire officials have known for years about the problems, a lack of money has prevented any major fixes, leading to the bond measure approach. The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 in February to place the measure on the ballot.

Supervisor Chris Daly opposes the measure because it does not include upgrades to the Hall of Justice, which also houses San Francisco Superior Court.