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A Roundup of Dec. 14 City Council Meeting

Proceedings from the meeting included approving the demolition of three more homes in the disaster area, denying a firm's appeal related to a bid to purchase new radios for the fire department and appointing a new vice mayor.

Here is a roundup of Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

More homes to be demolished in disaster area

Three more homes in the Crestmoor neighborhood will have to be demolished after the insurance companies of the residents determined their properties to be completely destroyed.

That now puts the number of homes destroyed in the Sept. 9 gas pipeline explosion at 38. Initially, the city reported that 37 homes were destroyed in the fire, but that number has since been reduced to 35 homes after two of the homes were deemed OK to be repaired.

The council adopted a resolution that would allow the city to go forward with a contract with Pacific States Environmental Contractors at a cost of $90,800 to demolish the homes at 1127 Glenview Dr., 960 Glenview Dr. and 2725 Concord Way.

The city said PG&E has agreed to cover the costs of the demolition work.

In other matters related to the Sept. 9 fire, City Manager Connie Jackson asked the council to extend the city's related to the explosion for at least another month. Jackson said this would allow the city to assess how the weather has affected the stability of the land in the neighborhood, particularly the slopes that were damaged in Crestmoor Canyon.

During public comment, a resident whose Claremont Avenue home was destroyed in the fire berated the council for not doling out sooner the $380,000 in donated to the city on behalf of the displaced residents.  

Families, many with young children, have been waiting months to find out when the money will be distributed, but the council has decided to wait until they get feedback from the residents about what exactly they need.

In the meantime, the council has formed a subcommittee comprised of council members Michael Salazar (who was appointed the city's new vice mayor on Tuesday night) and Irene O'Connell to come up with a recommendation of how best to distribute the relief money.

The Claremont Avenue resident was concerned that could delay the process more, leaving those in need of the money in limbo for even longer.

Mayor Jim Ruane said it shouldn't take much longer before a decision is made.

"The subcommittee was just appointed a month ago, and we want to wait until we get a small group of residents that will represent the community's interest," Ruane said. "I think it's best to let the initial shock go over so we don't just shoot from the hip."

Council denies firm's appeal for fire department radio bid 

The council heard an appeal from the president of Williams USA, a radio communications firm that applied for a contract to replace the mobile and portable radios used by the fire departments in , Millbrae, San Mateo and Central County.

According to the city, the firm's bid was denied because the products Williams USA was proposing for the fire departments didn't meet the specifications spelled out in the bid. Awarding the contract to the firm also could have affected the agencies' chances of getting a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that is covering most of the cost of the radio purchases.

After hearing from the president of the firm, Phillip Williams, and receiving explanations from both Assistant City Manager Jim O'Leary and Fire Chief Dennis Haag, the council eventually decided to deny the appeal.

"It really comes down to one question: Did the bid meet the specifications," Ruane said in giving his vote. "No, you didn't."

City to develop new sewer master plan

The city's sewer system is under pressure, and we're not just talking about the kind that goes through the pipes.

Because of the city's aging infrastructure, the system has been experiencing high sewer overflows, which resulted in bacteria-tainted water being leaked into San Francisco Bay. This was the main issue brought up earlier this year by San Francisco Baykeeper, which sued the city along with a number of other cities for allegedly polluting the Bay.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board also has issued a cease and desist order to the city to reduce its sewer overflows or face significant penalties. Part of that order requires the city to come up with an updated sewer master plan, so the city is now embarking on completing this new plan by 2012.

The council voted 4-1 to allow the city to form a contract at a cost of $309,420 with RMC Water and Environment to identify cost-effective solutions that would modernize the city's sewer system, reduce the amount of sewage being spilled into the Bay and reduce maintenance demands. Salazar cast the dissenting vote.

Council members said this update would probably affect residents' rates. But O'Connell said it was a necessary fix that would be preventing future problems that could, in the long run, cost the city even more.

"We don't like to raise people's water and sewer rates," she said. "But as I always like to remind them, if we don't get it fixed, it's all going to collapse."

In other action, the council agreed to have the city look into adopting several new building codes that would require new construction to adhere to more stringent green-building standards. These new standards would mostly apply to new homes, which would mean that homes rebuilt in the Crestmoor neighborhood would have to comply.

The council also heard a yearly report from a representative of the city's . Committee Vice Chairman Eric Wood gave a summary of what the committee accomplished this year and said next year the committee is looking to turn its attention to improving parking issues downtown.

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