I can’t think of a more important issue for the City of San Francisco than disaster preparedness. Many lives will be on the line when the next major earthquake or wildfire hits, or if terrorists attack. That’s why the I-Team has spent a good part of the past year investigating the San Francisco Office of Emergency Services. If you’ve caught any of our reports, you know by now that OES and Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office have been less than forthcoming in our requests for information, and we’ve taken steps to show you how difficult it’s been dealing with them. We posted the e-mail chain when public officials refused to be interviewed, and when they refused to provide public records.
In 25 years of reporting, I’ve never seen a public agency as reluctant as OES to provide public documents that we – and you – have the right to see. It’s been more than a year since our first request, and OES and the Mayor’s Office have failed to give proof that the city is prepared for disasters. So, we’ve taken the battle to the next level – the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.
And, we have an update. Last week, the Sunshine Task Force agreed to hear our case; it’s scheduled for September 8th, and you can read the case file here.
You’ll see in the city’s response that they portray themselves as being very cooperative, having “produced thousands of pages”. It’s true the city has provided a lot of paper – what our producer, Beth Rimbey, calls “the kitchen sink” including outdated documents, overly redacted reports, and disaster plans from other agencies – but they’ve failed to provide sufficient evidence of what work OES has done, including an earthquake plan. I can’t believe that so long after the ‘06 Earthquake and Loma Prieta, San Francisco still does not have a completed emergency response plan for an earthquake. As our Sunshine Task Force complaint states, without the “blueprints for how we prepare and respond to disasters … we have no real means of planning ahead, measuring progress, spending money efficiently or organizing drills and exercises.” Important work. You deserve answers, and we’re pushing to get them.