The city is set to begin the next improvements to the Crestmoor neighborhood as part of the effort to rebuild the area damaged by the Sept. 9, 2010, PG&E pipeline explosion.
Some of the rebuilding work has already taken place to bring the neighborhood some semblance of normalcy, such as filling the 72-foot-long crater left by the explosion on Glenview Drive and reopening the street to traffic.
But the construction that is expected to start this month and continue until the summer will be the largest effort to date.
The City Council and city officials last week met with BKF Engineers, the firm hired to design the neighborhood reconstruction project, at a study session to discuss the plans, which will include rebuilding streets, sidewalks, water and sewer lines and eventually the park that used to be at Earl Avenue and Glenview Drive.
This fall, construction crews will begin working on increasing the size of the sewer and water systems in the neighborhood to accommodate a significant number of homes that are being rebuilt about 40 percent larger than before the fire. Council members and staff also discussed extending those improvements to the whole neighborhood, which, like most of the city, includes infrastructure that is more than 50 years old.
That construction is expected to cost about $3 million to $4 million.
Designs are being developed to make the following improvements in the spring:
- Upgrading the storm drain systems, especially in areas such as Fairmont Drive and Claremont Drive, where water frequently backs up in the drain.
- Making aesthetic improvements to the streets, which could include installing traffic circles, extending curbs, installing medians or planting trees.
- Replacing streetlights throughout the entire neighborhood.
- Replacing damaged sidewalks throughout the entire neighborhood.
- Replanting trees in Crestmoor Canyon that were destroyed in the fire.
- Overall, the improvements are expected to cost about $9 million to $11 million.
The city is also looking to possibly underground the utilities in the neighborhood. But some council members expressed caution about that option because undergrounding utilities means that homeowners would lose a portion of their front yard, and some may not understand that process yet.
In addition to the infrastructure work taking place, a number of residents are still making progress with rebuilding their homes. As of October, according to the city, eight building permits have been issued for new homes, six permits are currently under review and 11 additional homeowners are in the pre-application stage.
City Manager Connie Jackson told the San Francisco Examiner those developments represent good progress.
“People are moving forward with great enthusiasm and speed,” Jackson told the Examiner.
Some residents, however, are still finding it difficult to cope with the changes since moving back into the neighborhood.
Recently, police set up a traffic radar on Glenview near San Bruno Avenue because there are now concerns about traffic in the neighborhood since all of the streets were opened back up.
Some say that contractors in the neighborhood are at fault for speeding, double-parking and excessive noise, which have become nuisances and a constant reminder that things aren’t quite back to normal yet.
Not to mention the fact that residents are still struggling with their insurance claims, as a survey conducted in September by United Policyholders showed that 50 percent of homeowners said they were lowballed for the rebuilding estimates from their insurance providers.
“This situation is definitely not over for many of us who live in the neighborhood,” said resident Kathy DeRenzi, whose home was damaged in the explosion and has since moved back into the neighborhood with her family. “It is hard to comprehend how much you are required to do when you lose everything. It is overwhelming and there are so many decisions one must make and so many obstacles you face when dealing with your insurance company and PG&E.
The council is set to discuss the construction upgrades at its Dec. 13 meeting. There will also be another community meeting about the reconstruction project in January. A website outlining the project is also in the works.