If Two Homes Are Built on This Bernal Heights Property, Will It Explode in a Giant Scorching Fireball?


There’s a design review committee meeting happening tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 28 at 7 pm at the Precita Center.

The topic on the agenda will be that proposal to build two single-family homes at 3516 and 3526 Folsom on the southeast slope of Bernal Hill, on the undeveloped lot just below Bernal Heights Boulevard at Folsom and Chapman. There are questions to consider. Like, how is the new right-of-way going to work, since there’s no road there now, and the slope is so hella steep? And what about drainage, and the garden that’s now on the site, and the existing character of the neighborhood? Also, if homes are built here, will the site explode in a gigantic, scorching, San Bruno-style fireball?

The mortal peril associated with the giant scorching fireball scenario introduces a dramatic new element to the usual Bernal Heights design review fare. The giant scorching fireball scenario has been popularized by some neighbors around the proposed development site, and they have detailed their concerns in a flyer:


Let’s zoom and enhance for better legibility:


Blast radius! Oh my.

But is this true? Is this pipeline the same type that blew up in San Bruno? How likely is it that a giant scorching fireball scenario will ultimately engulf everything inside the red circle?

Remain calm, Citizens of Bernalwood. Let’s walk through this piece by piece.

The gas pipeline that runs through Bernal Heights is called Line 109, and it is definitely serious business. The 2010 San Bruno explosion is fresh in Bay Area memory, but that was Line 132 — a different pipeline altogether. That said, Line 109 also exploded once, in a giant scorching fireball, right here in Bernal Heights, back in 1963.

So there’s that.


Bernalwood reported on the present-day status of Line 109 back in 2011. At the time, we said:

The good news is, our section of Line 109 is relatively new [installed in the early 1980s], and thus hopefully does not have any of the shoddy, 1950s-era welds that were blamed in the San Bruno explosion. Likwise, it seems that an active inspection regimen is in place to validate the line’s integrity.

And so, we concluded:

Given the magnitude of PG&E’s recent mismanagement of its pipeline infrastructure, and the tremendous potential for harm, unwavering diligence will be required by both Bernal Heights residents and our local authorities to ensure the pipeline will remain safe for decades to come.

So, diligence.

That brings us to the present day. Bernalwood has been contacted by a group of neighbors around the proposed development who have been raising alarm about the giant scorching fireball scenario and rallying to oppose construction on the site. We also sent a series of technical questions to PG&E, to get additional information about the status of the pipeline at this location.

We will hear from both sides.

Writing on behalf of the neighbors who oppose the project, Neighbor Maiyah tells Bernalwood:

The site is at Folsom and Chapman, right next to the community garden. There’s a huge gas transmission line right next to the two plots… just like the one in San Bruno. It’s the same line that exploded in 1963 near Alemany and injured 9 firefighters (one also died of a heart attack) and blew up a house. I’m now a part of a small group of concerned Bernal residents who are trying to bring to light the facts of this situation and to inform others of the potential dangers.

I saw the developer (Fabien Lannoye) at the East Slope Design Review Board Meeting in April and he seemed to be not very concerned about the pipeline, not knowing the exact depth of it. He sort of shrugged when he said PG&E had no record of it. Bernal residents had asked him for a comprehensive site plan, the exact location of the pipe, the impact on the nearby community garden, and many more questions and his answer was that he didn’t ever receive the letter in the mail. It made me feel uneasy to say the least.

Just thinking about that huge transmission line with heavy construction equipment digging and moving earth over and around it on one of the steepest grades in San Francisco (35%), makes me cringe.

One of our members recently emailed Robert Bea, Professor Emeritus at the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley, who investigated the San Bruno disaster. She asked him if she should be concerned about the pipe line here in Bernal. He replied yes, with the facts that have been gathered so far: (1) the pipeline is old (1980’s) installed in an area with highly variable topography, (2) there are no records on the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline, (3) there are no definitive guidelines to determine if the pipeline is ‘safe’ and ‘reliable’, (4) there is apparent confusion about who is responsible (government, industrial – commercial) for the pipeline safety, reliability, and integrity.

This list is identical to the list of concerns that summarized causation of the San Bruno Line 132 gas pipeline disaster.

I live about a block from the proposed construction site, so I’m not too worried, but those of us who live right next to the pipeline are thinking twice about their safety right now.

That’s the argument against building two homes on the lots at 3516 and 3526 Folsom.

To better understand the technical issues, Bernalwood reached out to PG&E with a detailed series of questions related to Line 109 in Bernal Heights and potential construction hazards at the proposed development site. PG&E was very responsive, and we received answers to our questions late last week.

Bernalwood’s questions, and PG&E’s responses, are provided here in their entirety:

1. When was the section of pipeline under the the proposed home site installed? When was it last upgraded?

The line was installed in 1981. PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safe operation of this line.

2. How often is this section of 109 inspected? What does the inspection entail? When did the last inspection take place? What were the results of that inspection?

This section of L-109 was successfully strength tested (via a hydrostatic pressure test) at the time of installation. PG&E records show no history of leaks for L-109 in this area.

PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safety of its natural gas transmission pipeline system.  PG&E regularly conducts patrols, leak surveys, and cathodic protection (corrosion protection) system inspections for its natural gas pipelines.  Any issues identified as a threat to public safety are addressed immediately.  PG&E also performs integrity assessments of certain gas transmission pipelines in urban and suburban areas.

Patrols:  PG&E patrols its gas transmission pipelines at least quarterly to look for indications of missing pipeline markers, construction activity and other factors that may threaten the pipeline.  L-109 through the [Bernal Heights] neighborhood was last aerially patrolled in May 2014 and no issues were found.

Leak Surveys:  PG&E conducts leak surveys at least annually of its natural gas transmission pipelines.  Leak surveys are generally conducted by a leak surveyor walking above the pipeline with leak detection instruments.  L-109 in San Francisco was last leak surveyed in April 2014 and no leaks were found.

Cathodic Protection System Inspections:  PG&E utilizes an active cathodic protection (CP) system on its gas transmission and steel distribution pipelines to protect them against corrosion.  PG&E inspects its CP systems every two months to ensure they are operating correctly.  The CP systems on L-109 in this area were last inspected in May 2014 and were found to be operating correctly.

Integrity Assessments:  There are three federally-approved methods to complete a transmission pipeline integrity management baseline assessment:  In-Line Inspections (ILI), External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) and Pressure Testing.  An In-Line Inspection involves a tool (commonly known as a “pig”) being inserted into the pipeline to identify any areas of concern such as potential metal loss (corrosion) or geometric abnormalities (dents) in the pipeline.  An ECDA involves an indirect, above-ground electrical survey to detect coating defects and the level of cathodic protection.  Excavations are performed to do a direct examination of the pipe in areas of concern as required by federal regulations.  Pressure testing is a strength test normally conducted using water, which is also referred to as a hydrostatic test.

PG&E performed an ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2009 and no issues were found.  PG&E plans to perform another ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2015.  This section of L-109 also had an ICDA (Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment) performed in 2012, and no issues were found.

Automated Shut-off Valves: There are two types of automated shut-off valves recognized within the natural gas industry: Remote Controlled Valves (RCV’s), which can be operated remotely from PG&E’s Gas Control Center, and Automatic Shutoff Valves (ASV’s) that will close automatically as a result of rapidly falling pipeline pressures and/or increased flows at the valve location. There is an RCV on L-109 in Daly City that can be used to isolate the section of L-109 that runs through this neighborhood.

3. Is this section of pipeline 109  “the same type that blew up in San Bruno?”

No. Line 109 operates at a much lower pressure and is smaller in diameter, and is of a much more recent vintage.

4. What safety procedures does PG&E put in place when home or street contruction occurs on the site of a major gas pipeline like 109?

Anytime a contractor or resident makes an excavation on franchise or private property, they must call 811 (State Law for Underground Service Alerts [USA]) in advance so we can identify and properly locate our UG facilities.  When our Damage Prevention group gets the USA request and identifies a critical facility like a gas transmission line in the scope of work, they notify the caller that they must contact PG&E for a standby employee.  PG&E must observe a safe excavation around our lines if any digging is within 10’ of it.  We must be present when they dig around this line.  Our standby inspector will instruct and guide the excavating party to avoid damage.  Excavators who violate this Law are subject to fines.

5. Does the steep grade of the Folsom site have any impact on Pipeline 109? Given the grade at the proposed site, are any special provisions or procedures required to ensure the safety of the pipeline during construction?

The grade of the street have no impacts on the operation of the line.  If the cover is not removed or disturbed within 10’ of the line, there are no special precautions needed.

6. Are there any specific technical or safety challenges posed by the proposed home site, and if so, how does PG&E plan to address them?

As long as the structures are built within the property lines similar to the existing [homes on Folsom Street], they will not pose any issues for us patrolling and maintaining that line.  The proposed home sites are not on top of line 109, and are no closer to the line than existing homes in the neighborhood.

Additional Background: In the area outlined in the map [Bernalwood sent PG&E, shown above], PG&E’s natural gas transmission pipeline L-109 runs down Folsom Street and turns east to follow Bernal Heights Blvd.  Line 109 in this area is a 26-inch diameter steel pipeline installed in 1981 and has a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 150 pounds per square inch gage (psig), which is 19.8% of the pipe’s specified minimum yield strength (SMYS).  This provides a considerable margin of safety, since it would take a pressure over 750 psig to cause the steel in the pipe to begin to deform.

Whew. Someone should turn that into a TED talk.

Bernalwood’s conclusion from the above is as follows: The handbill that has been posted around Bernal Heights by concerned neighbors contains several errors. Line 109 in Bernal Heights is not the same type of pipeline as Line 132, which exploded in San Bruno. The inspection history provided by PG&E undermines the assertion that “there are no records on the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline.” Line 109 has been the subject of a recent and ongoing inspection regimen, and if the developer follows the required safety protocols, the hazards associated with construction on the proposed development site should be routine and manageable.

Here too, rigorous diligence will be required to ensure the project is executed and managed properly. If such diligence is applied, the Citizens of Bernalwood may soon enjoy the company of a few new neighbors on the upper reaches of Folsom Street, without having to endure the hardship and mortal peril associated with a giant scorching fireball emanating from the new home site.

Reasonable minds might reasonably view this matter differently. Either way, see you at the design review meeting, 7pm on Wednesday, May 28 at Precita Center.

134 thoughts on “If Two Homes Are Built on This Bernal Heights Property, Will It Explode in a Giant Scorching Fireball?

  1. The use of “luxury” as a buzzword gives away the flyer maker’s real intent. Those weren’t put up by people concerned about public safety; they would have opposed any housing development there, and just latched onto this as their excuse to try to kill it.

    The pipeline issue is a fair subject of discussion. If only we could keep the NIMBYs out of it.

      • Spot on. Having been to the initial ESDRB meeting for this project, I can confirm that all manner of excuses to kill the project were being tested. This is NIMBYism, and it’s costing every resident in SF by reducing the creation of new housing stock.

      • So what’s wrong with opposing luxury housing? Who does it help but the super rich, and the developer? I’d rather have the open space. And if you believe that more “market rate” housing will stabilize let alone reduce the cost of housing in SFm you’re dreaming. What is it in you dweebs that has you identify with luxury housing developers and as-yet rich neighbors more than your own current neighbors, and their concerns? You seem cranky, angry, dissatisfied, and with no appropriate method for expressing your anger. So work out more often, meditate, and join efforts to preserve SF and Bernal Heights.

      • Buck, if my current neighbors (like yourself) had their way, a “dweeb” like me wouldn’t have been able to find my way into this neighborhood, ever. This isn’t even “luxury” housing; it’s what would be ordinary housing anywhere else. It happens to be really expensive because San Francisco NIMBYs have been determined to squeeze the housing supply so tight that land values have skyrocketed. And I’m not going to play along. Sorry.

      • Agree. There’s some real concerns with the pipeline here, why cheapen it with divisive hyperbole?

      • Buck, you forgot, “…and get laid every now and again”

      • Buck, you cannot negate supply and demand! And, I’m shocked that you don’t see the connection between housing at market rate and things like, oh, Ellis Act Evictions. Do you think people LIKE to evict others so they can have a place to live? Don’t you think they do so primarily because it is more affordable than the alternative?

        Simply, for every new house sold at market rate, there is a house all the way at the bottom of the stack that sells for less. That’s the very definition of the supply-demand curve: increase supply and prices go down.

        Preserving Bernal is not an end in and of itself. You would do more to preserve Bernal to satisfy the demand for housing here by expansion, rather than economic pressures on people of lesser means to sell their houses or get evicted. Allow more diversity by allowing demand to be satisfied with expanded supply.


      • Buck — it’s not your property. As long as the proposed development meets with the appropriate zoning codes, the owners of the lots have the right, and should have the right, to build what they want.

    • *All* development is demonized as “Luxury housing” nowadays, in order to turn the people who are struggling to afford housing (due to this city’s crusade against new development) against it. Brand new construction compared to a moderately updated house built in the 30’s will comparatively be so.

      Rich people are going to buy places regardless. Wouldn’t you rather them buy something new instead of buying an old house and knocking it down?

      • Buck, you forgot a word: Additional market rate units *alone* won’t fix the housing problem in SF. But then again, neither will name-calling.

    • Buck,
      Is any new construction that’s not a multi-unit below market or subsidized housing project a “luxury” project for the super rich?

      First of all, the “super rich” don’t live in Bernal. They’re on the top of Pac Heights, in Sea Cliff, Liberty Hill, waterfront in the Marina, etc. According to the census bureau, the average income in Sea Cliff ($321,878) is below what Bankrate.com says you need to earn to be in the 1% ($345k).

      And while people who most would call “rich” (but not super-rich) do live in Bernal, the super rich aren’t looking for $1.5 million homes. They’re looking for $10+ million homes on huge lots and room for their large domestic staffs.

      So drop the “super”, and be a little less inciting and just say, housing for rich or well off families, which is far more accurate.

    • Exactly. Luxury is a word used by the obstructionists to stop ANY change whatsoever to SF.

  2. What a great unbiased summary! Thanks for posting this and sharing the responses from PG&E. The propaganda that has been posted around the neighborhood is offensive not only because it is not factual but also because of the waste it creates. A ridiculous amount of flyers have been posted at every level and surface….on curbs, fences, light poles, gates, trash cans etc. Not very Bernal-like.

  3. Two homes will be a huge improvement over what is there now – A rundown,vacant lot!

  4. Amazing how NIMBY’s can cloak their self interest in pretend interest for others. Did it ever occur to these NIMBY’s that years ago the houses that THEY live in were built next to someone else’s property who lost the open space and sunlight? That’s right, they live in house, cook in kitchen and poop in a nice private toilet because someone else didn’t stop them from building the house they they enjoy. If NIMBY ideology prevailed – there would be no Bernal Heights neighborhood – because no one would have been permitted to build a house. I really truly have no dog in this fight whatsoever (I live four of 5 blocks away), I don’t know the details, but with this “explosion” fear mongering I can smell the smell of shameless NIMBYISM, and it is a sour stench indeed. The few

    • Everyone against building more stock either has a sweet below market value rent control apartment or owns their own place. “Fuck You, Got Mine.”

    • Agree completely. The worst of Nimbyism is alive and well in Bernal. They want the open space to remain, because they have enjoyed it for many years. Then they should buy it. How many years did the neighbors ALREADY know of this pipeline? Did the know of it at all until this development proposal? These neighbors are the worst of the self-entitled, selfish UNINFORMED of Bernal. Shame on them.

  5. This has been posted for less than an hour, and already the venom is flowing! It’s complex, and I want to read this carefully when I have the time.
    I will say that open space has a value. For example, I see the eastern grassy area at the top of the hill is being degraded every day. Bernal Heights is unusual because it has undeveloped areas; they are pleasing to my eye, they are fragrant and they are quiet. They are of value. For example, I’d hate to see the blackberry bushes on the northern side of the hill disappear. This issue goes beyond more or less houses. The Bernal Heights neighborhood is what it is because of the odd geology and the quirky development that had to accommodate this.

    • Can you even see this particular parcel from street level anywhere besides the houses directly against it?

      • Yes, it’s visible for about a long block from the street that rings the hill. You can access the community garden on this land from the same street

    • If you want to keep it undeveloped, lobby the SF government to buy the land and keep it an open space, otherwise, mind your own business – the owner of the property isn’t obligated to keep it undeveloped so you can have something that’s pleasing to your eyes, ears and nose.

      • Well, gentrifier x, I ought to mind my own business? Perhaps you could let me / us know exactly who can appropriately hold and express opinions about Bernal Heights?
        Elaborate! And while you are at it, why doesn’t the person that you are identify him (her) self, rather than hiding behind a few lower case letters.

      • No one’s saying you can’t hold view about Bernal Heights should be, Eugenie, but there are still limits as to how you should get to enforce them upon other people.

      • No thanks, I’ll stick with my current handle – I rather like it.

        You’re entitled to your opinion and I’m not able (or even trying) to suppress it – you’re free to continue to comment here or in various public forums. I’ll grant you that “mind your own business” was a poor turn of phrase, but what seems to be at issue is your sensibilities and your idea of what Bernal Heights should be. I, personally, think that the opinions of people who aren’t directly affected by the development (i.e., the landowners of the adjacent properties) have too much leverage in new development.

        If it turns out that building a house on that land is indeed dangerous based on facts, then so be it; that might have been something the landowner should have investigated before purchasing the land (I’ve always found buying a property to be fraught with pitfalls like this). But to allow one’s feelings, rather than facts, dictate what a can landowner build on their property is a bad way to foster goodwill among neighbors (especially those who will be living side-by-side) and a bad way to dictate the development San Francisco clearly needs.

  6. Threatening with an explosion. The same lack of nuance and imagination that terrorist’s resort to. Shameless.

  7. Great to see this proposed 6-lot subdivision getting some scrutiny by the community. Glad the author got some answers from PG&E. Interesting how much of the PG&E pipeline review took place this month. Lots of issues with development on this steep slope: exemption from environmental review, street parking waiver, access road safety, alteration of surface water run-off, and obstruction of views from BHB. Behind this project are two developers who don’t care about the character of Bernal and aim to maximize profit – not regular folks trying to create low impact housing in tune with the surrounding homes while preserving open space. More will be revealed.

    • If you want to preserve the open space and your precious views you should pool together with your neighbors and buy the lot.

      Otherwise, the city has building codes for a reason. Provided the development meets those codes it should proceed. You don’t get a veto.

    • Pam,
      I am the owner of one of the two lots, trying to build a house for my family. I do care about Bernal and I intend to live in that house. The proposed houses are very reasonable by any standards: mine would be 2,100 SF (225 SF being in the basement) 3 bedroom house, which I don’t consider extravagant for a family of 4.
      If building a house makes one a developer, than yes, I am a developer.
      The houses will be built well behind the Gas line, between 11′ and 12′-0″ away, depending on the exact size of the gas line.
      Hope this helps.

    • “obstruction of views”??? If I could just tear down the house across the street from me I would have an amazing Bay view. How do I rally people to petition the building department to get that house condemned and razed to restore my view? After all, my house was built 20 years before the one blocking my view was. 🙂

      • Skip, let’s just say they sold the home. Flipping tends to be used in context of slapping new paint on a tear-down. I like the term “putting lipstick on a pig”, which doesn’t qualify for this home. I went to the open house when this was on the market. Beautiful inside and out. If this is the quality that will be built, everyone in Bernal should be taking Fabian out for a beer. All home owners will benefit with increased property values, especially the fear mongers on Gates Street.

    • Ok so flipping wasn’t the correct term. Just a bit disingenuous to say he’s going to build a house to live in Bernal when he already did that and sold it quickly to make a huge profit.

      • Skip, now you’re being disingenuous. You can’t know his motivation and far as making a profit, that’s as American as it gets.

  8. if it’s a good project it will pass the test and get built. No need to hate on people for airing their concerns though ideally, they’d be less inflammatory. a person’s home is very important so it makes sense for people to fight to protect from a perceived threat. a little understanding goes a long way in resolving differences and coming together to find a solution for the common good.

    • These a-holes aren’t airing their concerns, they’re fearmongering and out right lying to push their own agenda without regard to the rights of others. They should be scorned, ridiculed, and hated. They are the worst Bernal and SF have to offer. To hell with them.

  9. Wow… this crowd has huffed a few too many bagfuls – seems like Bernal has nothing but mean and nasty, wild-eyed, shit-kickin bullies. That’s not the neighborhood I know and love.

    • You can only listen for so long to longtime residents of SF try to convince themselves that they’re not totally the same thing as “fuck you, got mine” republicans everywhere in the US, just like Marinites citing environmental concerns as the main reason that affordable housing for service workers should be built anywhere but Marin.

      Bonus points if they love talking out the other side of their mouth about how their generation was so free-spirited and cool (compared to today’s crop) when they arrived.. you know, before they decided to pull up the ladder behind themselves and post a “sorry go home, city’s full” at city limits.

      • It was really disappointing to discover how crassly self-interested so much of Bay Area politics is, as someone who was drawn here years ago in part due to this area’s liberal, tolerant reputation.

      • I think BP’s comments are fair enough. People who wish to “conserve” a private piece of of land on a hill in a neighborhood with a great diversity of housing … it’s just naked self-interest.

        It is deplorable to use misinformation and fear mongering to try to block development…

      • It’s true: The attitude of many who own homes in Bernal–maybe worth 300K not so long ago and now a cool million–is reminiscent of Reagan Democrats. They were liberal until it suited them to just hunker down with the creature comforts they have, like a house that will make them a millionaire at a moment’s notice. As has been said, if you are liberal when you are old, you have no head. Many in SF today, as we can see very easily in Bernal, have turned in their lib cards in their 40s.

        Those who display fear, resentment, or anger about being pushed out of the neighborhood–or losing their neighbors due to skyrocketing prices/costs–are viewed as frantic heretics on this blog. Someone who writes about SF’s clear housing crisis is labeled as “leftist” in a most pejorative way, as if the witch hunt for socialists is on again. A posting about an artist on this blog–ostensibly about her work–is actually one about economic disenfranchisement and that person’s loss of their living space in Bernal. That article received very few comments, as I recall, since the undercurrent was so gut-wrenching. The silence was palpable.

        As I have commented before on this blog, the posts here about housing and economic challenges are by far–by far–the most commented on, with pain on one side and condescension on the other (more or less). That’s what matters to people, that’s what brings the fangs out, that’s what the community’s struggle really is, and that’s reflecting what Bernal’s character is becoming.

        The housing situation in SF is actually so bad (for the “un-rich”) that a recent “sports” story about the Atlanta Braves moving their stadium out of the city and into a more wealthy part of the area actually focused on SF’s housing crisis! It’s nationally known that we “have issues” with our population’s survival.

        Those among us who are vulnerable have expressed views that have been labeled as “hysterical”–including by this blog’s editor–which is quite arrogant and dismissive. Admittedly, some words by the “less fortunate” among the economically disenfranchised community in Bernal have not been well chosen at all, and some of their invective has been misdirected at a few groups. But when you feel your life being pulled out from beneath you, decorum may quite understandably go out the door. What else do you really have to fight with in this city–besides your frustration–when you are on the brink of losing everything around you? Please don’t recommend calling up Ed Lee, David Campos, et al, or attending some meetings, or thinking that a few housing units in some empty lots are going to help. They are not changing this reality during the lifetimes of anyone who is middle-age today. (Sure, some home-owner in Bernal will say that this attitude is part of the problem–a truly visionary and courageous statement on their part.)

        Those who own their homes in Bernal have a nest egg not only for the rest of their lives but their children’s lives. Many others–even those you see everyday–are living through a completely different economic existence. They may have to scurry to find housing, move their children out of schools, endure far greater financial burdens to secure a home of any sort (even compared to 5 years ago)–and then have to read how they complain too much, aren’t doing enough to change their conditions, and should basically “shut up” and surrender to the naturalness of The Change. That’s rich.

        “Get Used to It!’–as many on this blog love to say, when thumbing their noses at their neighbors, who may–after a decade or more–just be temporary anyway. Indeed, if you can’t stand the heat, this kitchen is not for you. Your neighbors will not miss you, sadly, as they have yours, and it is quite enough for them.

      • This could hardly be more wrongheaded. The underlying theme of all of these posts is that there IS a housing crisis, and the NIMBYs who fight tooth and nail against every project on the hill, every development around the city, are exacerbating it. The NIMBYs all around the Bay, in fact.

        “Get fucking used to it” isn’t a statement of arrogance or disdain. It’s an acknowledgement that change is reality. It can be for the better or worse, but the status quo cannot be preserved in amber. We aren’t saying, “no,” we’re saying, “yes!”

      • Otis, I very much appreciate what you are saying. However,I do also think you have not done justice to the original context of the “get fucking used to it” comment. That was not in any way a statement about the very real economic hardship created for many Bernal neighbors by the current housing market.

        Instead, it was very explicitly intended as a statement aimed at some Bernal residents from the Baby Boomer generation, some of whom tend to regard the newer (but not newly arrived) generation of Bernal residents who have moved here since the mid 1990s with a mixture of disgust and condescension. As if they are not “Bernal enough”somehow.

        I invite you to revisit the original post to see for yourself:

      • …same thing as “fuck you, got mine” republicans everywhere in the US, just like Marinites…

        Yes, there are so many Republicans in Marin.

  10. I respect your right to your opinion, Todd Lapin, and I know you love Bernal Heights as fervently as any of us. (Plus, you have a pretty funny sense of humor.) However, I respectfully disagree with your editorializing on this article. Also, I really wish you had questioned PG&E’s replies. Admittedly, the content of some of the replies has me more worried. Several points I’d like to make:

    1) This is the same “type” of pipeline that blew up San Bruno. It is hair-splitting to say it is not. Like the San Bruno pipeline, it is major gas transmission pipeline – one of three huge gas pipelines coming into SF. San Bruno’s pipeline is 30″ in diameter. Bernal’s is 26″ – not a significant difference. There is no question that they are both major transmission pipelines.

    2) There are differing opinions on what constitutes an aging pipeline. UC Professor Emeritus Robert Bea, a noted expert in pipeline safety, calls Pipeline 109 – built in the 1980’s – “old.” PG&E calls it of a “more recent vintage.” You can decide how to interpret that but I go for the civil engineering expert’s characterization over wine-note terminology.

    3) PG&E’s job inspecting and monitoring possible threats to the pipeline are questionable. In fact, there is a good local example: just go to the Bernal Community Garden, look at the PGE Gas Warning sign marking where the pipeline is – and note the tall pine tree growing on top of it. As far as I know, completely against safety rules for gas transmission pipelines – which don’t allow for trees on top of pipelines. How long has this tree been here? Years. So much for PG&E’s “comprehensive inspection and monitoring system.” If Bernal residents can see this obvious example, what would outside experts see?

    4) I partly agree with the first comment to this article by BP – “If only we can keep the NIMBY’s out of it.” (His point – that calling the 3,000 square foot homes “luxury houses” is loaded – is a noteworthy one.) Big houses aside, the pipeline poses a special concern that triggers design issues regarding the street – no parking, 35 degree slope, emergency vehicle access issues, turn-around issues – among others.

    5) Regarding PG&E’s assertion that “The grade of the street have no impacts on the operation of the line.” No one disagrees with that statement. Of course gas will go through the line, but there is something else about a very steep grade to consider: moving vans, heavy-duty machinery – that is the scary thing.

    The truth is a lot of heavy-duty equipment will be moving over this pipeline at a very steep angle – and common sense asks, Where is the risk assessment done by a neutral party that can assure neighbors this is not a dangerous thing? Not us or PG&E – but a neutral risk assessment (CEQA?)?

    Some of you may recall that not long ago a cement truck overturned at the base of this proposed development, rupturing a water main. Underscoring the neighbors valid concerns about heavy-duty machinery running back and forth across this pipeline on a steep slope.

    6) I’m confused about their reference to the “cover” PG&E talks about: “If the cover is not removed or disturbed within 10’ of the line, there are no special precautions needed.” Presumably the cover they are talking about is pavement – which protects the other parts of this line throughout the city. Right now, the landscaper is proposing part pavement and part landscape boxes with trees over the pipeline. Nice overture to landscaping – but completely against pipeline safety rules. Again, if Bernal residents weren’t questioning the public safety issues of this development, who would?

    7) This brings us to his question: Where is SF’s transmission pipeline risk assessment policy? This is a totally reasonable question to ask – and would help calm down neighbors. I refer readers to a pamphlet put out by the US Department of Transportation called, “Building Safe Communities: Pipeline Risk and Its Application to Local Development Decisions.”

    8) Lastly, I want to point out that given PG&E’s track record, its lack of analysis on why residents are concerned is alarming in and of itself. Come on. Some acknowledgement of past failures would add to the credibility here.

    Enough for now. I think it’s important to keep in mind that, yes, these pipeline accidents are rare – but when they do happen they are catastrophic. We have a right to live free from the fear of such an accident.

    • The concern over large machinery driving over the pipeline seems exaggerated. After all, not only was a major water line into San Francisco constructed right next to this gas line down Alabama street several years ago without impacting it, but busses and trucks drive over where the gas line is buried daily.

      Trees over gas pipelines are indeed an issue. See: https://www.questargas.com/brochures/59090.pdf But roots grow outward as well. My understanding that the gas line sign isn’t an exact marker, it just means there is a line buried in the 20-30 feet around it. It’s a “call 811 before digging” warning. Because there is a wide clearing in the area it seems like PG&E has kept the area free of trees over it. But there are trees adjacent to it all along Bernal Heights Blvd, and the main is only a couple feet into the street there. (Back in 2009 when they did a major inspection of it, which involved drilling holes into the ground to do cathodic inspection, I took lots of photos which document the surveyor marks and route it takes).

      Cover: the term is usually referring to as the ground above a buried pipeline/cable. I don’t think it’s in PG&E’s interest to allow development over their pipelines; they’re not making money off this. When Alamaba was re-done after the water main project was completed, PG&E blocked the installation of trees in the center dividers because it was too close to the pipelines. So I expect PG&E to keep the developers/property owners from doing anything that would damage their pipeline. Again, PG&E won’t profit from this development so it’s hard to see why they’d be encouraging that development.

      There are lots of already-developed homes within 20 feet of this gas line, including the recently-built 27 Bernal Heights Blvd home and the adjacent public garden.

      Really want to make things safer? Require all homes adjacent to the pipeline to install gas detectors– all the ones on Folsom on the South side of the hill, and along BH Blvd, and down Alabama and the rest of the pipeline route through the mission/potrero hill.

    • The difference in capacity between a 30″ and 26″ diameter pipe is very significant. You can ask an engineer for the calculation if needed.

      • A 30″ pipe can carry 4/3 of the capacity of a 26″ pipe, or 33% more. I would not call that very significant. (That was a basic physics calculation, based on the area of the circle, not sure how an engineer would come to different results)

  11. Todd, I’m *extremely* disappointed in this article. I thought that Bernalwood was better than this. Seriously, using the word “hella”? And right in the second paragraph? Are we in the East Bay now?

  12. Aren’t you at all concerned about your safety? Do you really trust what PG&E wrote? Look at their track record.

    • Nah, we live in San Francisco, an earthquake could happen at any minute.

      BTW, if you weren’t hear at LEAST for the 1989 shaker, you’re not a resident. 😉

    • If you’re concerned about safety, why be concerned about only one particular point that a pipeline transverses? The same pipeline runs a couple feet from the sidewalk on Bernal Heights Blvd, over to Alabama, down Alabama to Precita (next to the children’s playground), down Precita to York, crossing C Chavez, etc. All the water main construction in 2008/9 didn’t cause an explosion. All the C Chavez construction didn’t blow up either.

      You can look up the Pipelines in SF on the National Pipeline Mapping System website: https://www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov/PublicViewer/

  13. Fantastic article Todd, you’re a neighborhood treasure. Just one minor quibble — “Reasonable minds might reasonably view this matter differently.” isn’t accurate. Reasonable minds won’t differ when presented with solid data.

    The people who posted this flyer were clearly trying to deceive us, their neighbors, so they can attempt to usurp the rights of others. If they don’t like development in our neighborhood they should work to change the building and zoning codes. Instead they lie and whine. I don’t like being lied to, I also don’t like it when selfish people try to take away the rights of property owners. Remember, these property owners are our neighbors too. If they’re not allowed to develop in a way that zoning laws permit it’s essentially taking money out of their pockets — theft. Just defending against these self righteous fools costs tons of time and money.

    If you’ve got a righteous gripe with a particular project, fine. As Todd’s article showed, this case is clear, the people who produced this flyer lied to their neighbors in a bald faced effort to steal from their neighbors. I’m ashamed to call have them as neighbors.

    • Interesting that you take such offense at self-righteousness, as you are dripping with it yourself. You could criticize the flyer posters for being alarmist or lurid, but that’s a far cry from “usurping the rights of others,” lying, or a “bald faced effort to steal.” Your hyperbole is just as egregious and, yes, offensive, as what you criticize.

      The San Bruno explosion was a terrifying and unexpected event. PG&E handled itself execrably in its aftermath. It is not ridiculous for people in the vicinity of a similar pipeline to be concerned, whether or not it is also in their economic interest, until all the concerns are thoroughly addressed.

      It is good to see the detailed reply from PG&E, but it leaves room for more questions, as other commentators have noted. Those questions may get fully addressed, or maybe they won’t. Until then, reasonable people can disagree here. Are you one of them?

  14. Thanks for the information. I sincerely hope a handful of selfish NIMBYs don’t succeed in killing this reasonable addition to the neighborhood.

  15. I, for one, am disgusted by the shameless use of actual reporting in a Bernalwood post. It’s all downhill from here.

  16. wow, love how you all just kept on going and no one acknowledged Fabien’s post here, one of the owners of the 2 lots. Do you think he wants to build a home for his family that would be unsafe. This nastiness and single mindedness is what we DON’T miss about our old neighborhood.

    • Look, JP. Being reasonable will not get us anywhere. It’s just not effective rhetoric to say that you oppose the efforts of a loving parent to provide housing for his (his, right?) family. So, let’s just stick with “luxury housing developer” for the rest of the discussion, okay? It will be better for everyone.

      • yeah whatever, And last time I checked Fabien is male spelling. Fabienne is female since you queried.

      • JP, I am sad. I was being ironic in hopes of bolstering your point and highlighting hyperbole of those attempting to halt the project. 😦

      • I must admit that I am lost in this labyrinth. Who is earnest and who is ironic?

  17. Pingback: If Two Homes Are Built on This Bernal Heights Property, Will It Explode in a Giant Scorching Fireball? | Betteridge’s Law

  18. Go to the Folsom and Powhattan intersection and then walk up the hill from there to Bernal Blvd. to experience the open space where the development is proposed. Then when you reach the top at Bernal Blvd., look down the hill. Be informed before you pass judgment, please.

    • Nah.. just google it. Only NIMBYs and Rich People have the time to walk. The rest of us are too busy sharpening pitch forks, priming torches, and huffin’ another bagful. Don’t need that kinda nonsense around here… got a war to wage for the rights of the people who are right.

      • Wrong! This does not show the area under discussion, which is to the right of the photo where you can also see the story poles that indicated the height of the proposed building. It also leaves out the garden, the lower slope ending at Folsom Street where the proposed road will be built and the adjoining land, also open for future development.
        Another item left out-the PG&E power sign. A camera lens is not a human eye, but can be manipulated to show what the human behind it wants to show.

  19. Rather than explain the safety situation, I will quote Prof. Robert Bea of UC Berkeley.–message to Marilyn Waterman.

    “given the background you provided in your email, yes – you should be concerned.

    there are several points in your summary that provide a good basis for your concerns:
    1) old (1980s) PG&E gas transmission pipeline installed in area with highly variable topography,
    2) no records on the construction, operation, and maintenance of the pipeline,
    3) no definitive guidelines to determine if the pipeline is ‘safe’ and ‘reliable’,
    4) apparent confusion about responsibilities (government, industrial – commercial) for the pipeline safety, reliability, and integrity.

    this list is identical to the list of concerns that summarized causation of the San Bruno Line 132 gas pipeline disaster.

    the fundamental ‘challenge’ associated with your concern is tied to the word ‘safe’. unfortunately, it has been very rare that i have encountered organizations that have a good understanding of what that word means, and less of an understanding of how to demonstrate that a given system is ‘safe enough’.

    during my investigation of the San Bruno disaster, i did not find a single document (including trial deposition transcripts) that clearly indicated PG&E or the California PUC had a clear understanding of the word ‘safe’: freedom from undue exposure to injury and harm.

    much of this situation is founded in ‘ignorance’. it is very rare for me to work with engineers who have a comprehensive understanding of what the word safe means – and no clue about how to determine if a system is either safe or unsafe. the vast majority of governmental regulatory agencies are even worse off.

    I go with Prof. Bea: Let’s be SAFE.

    • Whatever the risk in a given situation is, you can count on the opponents of a construction project to always set the bar for “safe” at an arbitrary level that’s just high enough to kill it. Funny, that.

      • The only reasonable response to these reasonable concerns is to start a betting pool. I’ll take $100 on the giant fireball but I fear that I will be disappointed.

    • The professor says “should be concerned.” The flyer says “600-foot Radius Blast/Fire Zone” and “recklessly endanger public safety” and “Luxury Housing Ahead Of Public Safety”

      Fear-mongering is offensive. The luxury-bait seems to be speculation. If these folks had a point — this flyer makes me want to take the other side…

    • Yeah, but if you submit a set of claims to Prof. Bea, but have no ability to verify the claims, you get what you ask for — an opinion based upon claims. Todd already showed how it is distinctly possible that those claims are misleading, misinformation, or just plain false.

      Demand information. Demand PG&E’s records of construction and maintenance. Demand their safety criteria. That’s a reasonable thing to do.

      Assume things? Reach conclusions based upon what an unsourced flyer says? That’s not particularly good reasoning.

    • I would stress the part about “given the background you provided in your email”.

      I’m sure I could write Professor Bea an email with “facts” such that his response would be “given the background your provided, I don’t see any problems at all”. Even if he read the posting above, I’m sure his response would be far different.

    • Marilyn Waterman lives on Gates and her view may be impacted. I’m questioning the entire Bea comment and think that maybe just a little if not all, might be either fictional or lacking the full context of what was sent to Marilyn. Shouldn’t be able to cherry pick portions that support a biased point of view. An engineer has to make numerous calculations in order to ensure the safety of all that might be affected. If an engineer screws the pooch in this process, it’s malpractice and puts his/her license in jeopardy. Luckily for the residents of San Francisco, we have one of the best engineering firms on the West Coast, Santos & Urrutia, with Rodrigo Santos being the President of SFDBI. When this project goes for permit review, our brothers and sisters of Gates will have all the input they need to make their case, but I would advise you kids to leave your flyers at home.

      Fabien, welcome to the neighborhood.

      • I can’t tell you how much the support of so many people we don’t know warms our hearts. We look forward moving on and turning the page. We can understand the opposition to this project and we really are trying to listen and improve things. I think the project is getting better, thanks to the feedback. this is not a pleasant way to go, but we do see the positive input the ESDRB has, and we do understand the concerns people have. These lots were created at the same time as all the adjacent lots, we are not asking for any other favor than being able to build a reasonable house, following all the guidelines and building codes. Thank you all for your support.
        Anna, Fabien and their two children.

    • The key phrase is “given the background you provided in your email”. He doesn’t have all the data because it wasn’t supplied to him.

      But as PG&E has stated (and I have witnessed first-hand myself), there have been multiple inspections on this line. I was investigating some unusual construction markings on Alabama in 2009 and eventually traced it down to a pipeline inspection company named MEARS, who I called and discussed what they were doing (cathodic inspection). Part of the documentation is on this old blog archive: http://precita.org/oldsite/2009/02/more-construction-happening-on-alabama.html

      More recently, you might have seen the Lasen pipe inspection helicopter, which uses an airborne gas detection system to detect minute leaks in pipelines. (It’s pretty cool technology, you can read about it here: http://lasen.com/ )

      Bea isn’t talking about this one single location. He’s talking about the entire pipeline.

  20. So glad you walked the hill and posted that beautiful photo, Todd Lappin. If the development goes forward, that view will be gone.
    Inexplicably, your photo excludes the the site poles the developer has erected there as reference points for sight lines from Bernal Blvd.

    • Gonna be a killer view for those new homeowners. Wowzahs! Shame to have some hay fever lessened but whatever!

  21. Correction: that view will not be gone. At all. The slope is very steep there, and the view will remain intact from that position on Bernal Heights Blvd

  22. I found Todd Lapin’s article to be very inflammatory and snide, and I am very surprised at many
    of the vitriolic comments that followed. I am among the group who has concerns about the safety
    issues around the pipeline. But I also value the open space, the views, the Community Garden —
    that section of Bernal Heights Blvd. where many people stop and admire the view and seem to appreciate the beauty of that particular area of open space.
    There are many other issues around this development that are of concern, not least of which
    is the design of the houses being proposed. What we would see from the top of the hill is
    essentially a solid wall which in no way blends in with the present topography. Another concern
    is the potential for a real development–six properties with not even the mandate to put in a
    proper street or retaining wall. The developer has been allowed(at this point) to put in a “driveway” rather than a street, since the slope is too steep to meet the requirements necessary
    for a street–hence parking problems, difficulty for vehicles to maneuver–including safety
    vehicles such as fire trucks–and the very vehicles needed to do the construction.
    I am anticipating being shot down by my comments (I didn’t even know the meaning of NIMBY
    until I became one)
    I would suggest, in view of the fact that so many people have very strong opinions regarding
    this issue, that some of you come to the meeting tomorrow evening at Precita Neighborhood
    Center and hear for yourselves what some of the other important issues are. We hope to
    be addressing the design concerns and street concerns that have pretty much been ignored by
    the architect. Please come and add your support or opposition. 534 Precita Ave. 7PM

    • Thanks, Linda. They need to hear that. You sure know how to make friends, Todd.
      See you tomorrow night.

    • Linda, like many that oppose homes being built here, you will loose your view. This is not a rational reason to prevent another family from pursuing their dream of building a home. Several months ago I met a woman on Cortland who was passing out and tapping flyers to streetlights. She was adamant that homes should never never be built in this open area that she was using as her own personal garden. Homesteading officially ended in 1976. This land is not your garden and unless your name is on the deed, you can express opinion, but not your will. It saddens me to think that in Bernal Heights there are a handful of people that would pounce on another’s civil liberties for their own selfish gain. This is wrong in so many ways.

      This isn’t about public safety. Shame on you!

    • I think that a recent Bernalwood article said it best about NIMBY’s…”people felt entitled to things that ultimately weren’t theirs.” You always have the option of purchasing the property in question and leaving it an open space. Although, I’m understand that complaining about the plan is free, and ultimately may grant you the results you were looking for.

    • Linda,
      We are required to put in a street, not a driveway. The design has been worked on and improved with the help of the Planning Department “Better Streets” and with DPW. We are not putting in a retaining wall to avoid having to dig and getting close to the Gas Pipeline (which is about 36″ to 48″ deep from what I am told). If I could lower the grade by having a retaining wall and lower the elevation of my house, I would that it in a heart beat, but I am told I can’t.
      I do not know Todd, but I think him for the objective and helpful article: he was able to get answers from PG&E much faster than I was.


  23. Housing Crisis! Oppose development at every turn!

    I live in Bernal. I own a home. My property value decreases if we increase the supply of housing, particularly if new houses are built that are potentially more valuable than mine. If my property value is less than it could be, I cannot refinance for as favorable terms, or exit the market with as much profit on my investment in my own home.

    Yet, I support development of new housing stock. Why? Because I do care about the diversity of this city, and there is no way that constraining supply of housing as we do will result in anything but unaffordable, high prices. Yes, we need a LOT of new housing, but you can’t on the one hand argue for rent control, eviction restrictions and subsidized housing while on the other hand block all attempts to satisfy demand for housing.

  24. Safety and fire access is the most important for any development in Bernal Heights. The area on the south and east side have limited fire access due to road widths and cul-desacs. Most areas don’t have turning radius for the fire trucks.

    Those who have been around for the aftermath of fire works are shot illegally from the hillside understand.

    A gas pipeline may require a utility easement on both sides of the pipeline. Sometimes these easements can range from 10 to 20 feet on each side. Also, there may be a restrictions on the type of trees that are planted due to root damage to the pipeline.

    The uniqueness of San Francisco is its neighborhoods, that were abandoned in the 1960. In the mid 1970’s there were a number of unpaved roads on the east and south side that were repaired. People move to this area because of the work that was done by the Bernal Heights community i…It is a mixture of blue color and professionals, mixed ethic groups, family and singles, straight and gay all living together. We all need to respect the work of those living here before us.

    The area for the proposed buildings needs to be studied very carefully to avoid and problems for the rest of the residents of Bernal Heights. Be thankful Bernal Heights has a design review process.

    Not sure that we can trust the building department right now to oversee any safety issues during construction. There is a house on my street that has been under renovation for over a year. The whole house has been gutted (three stories), a new roof configuration and new widows all without approved plans (indicating the size of framing and connections) and energy calculations. The building department needs to clean up their act and follow the building code requirements.. No one in City Hall is paying attention to what is happening in the building department.

    • Let me get this straight. So we should not trust the building department but will live and work in buildings that were built under lesser guidelines, we should also not trust PG&E but we will use the gas and power lines that connect to our homes, we should not trust anyone who does something for profit, but we all go to work every day for profit and live in a home that was built for profit. No irony here.
      When the blast zone is cleared by a fireball and subsequent mushroom cloud I look forward to the new views! Not to mention all the new space for a new community garden. Any way we can get the Calle 24 group involved in this process. Also I am offended that no one is concerned about underground streams, and not to mention the ancient Indian burial ground and pet cemetery.

  25. Who owned this property prior to 2013 and 2000? The sf assessor site is not helpful beyond 2000. Was this city property that the city flipped to some real estate friend and it never should have been built on? And will that pine be cut down now? Here we go….

  26. Pingback: Good Morning Mission! | Mission Loc@l

  27. @brian. I was adding to the argument. You’re putting words in my mouth silly. Now stop

  28. Here are some more Q&A’s from PG&E:
    Background: Lot 13 and Lot 14, Block 5626; 3516 Folsom St.; 3526 Folsom St. Concerned neighbors require explicit information about Pipeline 109. Thus we are sending the following request for information to the developer and to you as a representative of PG&E. As the owner of the above listed lots, in the vicinity of Pipeline #109 in Bernal Heights, we, concerned neighbors, are asking you to provide the following information:

    QUESTION(S) 1: Where exactly is pipeline 109?; identify the longitude and latitude coordinates.

    RESPONSE(S) 1: Please see attachment “L109_Folsom_Street.pdf” for the location of Line 109 near 3516 and 3526 Folsom Street, San Francisco. PG&E does not provide latitude and longitude of natural gas pipelines to outside parties (other than its regulators) for security reasons. To have PG&E identify the location of the gas lines in your street, please call USA, the Underground Service Alert, at 811.

    QUESTION(S) 2: How deeply is #109 buried?

    RESPONSE(S) 2: Gas transmission pipelines are typically installed with 36 to 48 inches of cover. However, the depth may vary as cover over the lines may increase or decrease over time due to land leveling and construction. Without digging and exposing the line, it is not possible to determine the exact depth.

    QUESTION(S) 3: What is Pipeline #109 composed of?

    RESPONSE(S) 3: Line 109 is a steel pipeline. In your neighborhood, this pipeline has a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 150 pounds per square inch gage (psig), which is 19.8% of the pipe’s specified minimum yield strength (SMYS). This provides a considerable margin of safety, since it would take a pressure of at least 750 psig to cause the steel in the pipe to begin to deform.

    QUESTION(S) 4: How old is Pipeline #109?

    RESPONSE(S) 4: Line 109 in this area was installed in 1981 and was strength tested at the time of installation.

    QUESTION(S) 5: How big in diameter is Pipeline #109? What is the composition of the pipeline?

    RESPONSE(S) 5: Line 109 in your vicinity is a 26-inch diameter steel pipeline.

    QUESTION(S) 6: How/with what are the pipe seams welded?

    RESPONSE(S) 6: Line 109 near 3516 and 3526 Folsom Street is constructed of API 5L-Grade B steel pipe, and has a double submerged arc weld along the longitudinal seam.

    QUESTION(S) 7: How much gas runs through Pipeline #109?

    RESPONSE(S) 7: Line 109 has a variable flow rate that is dependent on system operations and San Francisco area gas customer consumption. As points of reference, however, Line 109 observed flow rates of 1.55 – 2.375 million standard cubic feet per hour (MMSCFH) through the flow meter at Sullivan Avenue in Daly City on May 27, 2014.

    QUESTION(S) 8: When were the last 3 inspections? Would you produce the documentation for these inspections.

    RESPONSE(S) 8: PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safety of its natural gas transmission pipeline system. PG&E regularly conducts patrols, leak surveys, and cathodic protection (corrosion protection) system inspections for its natural gas pipelines. Any issues identified as a threat to public safety are addressed immediately. PG&E also performs integrity assessments of certain gas transmission pipelines in urban and suburban areas.

    Patrols: PG&E patrols its gas transmission pipelines at least quarterly to look for indications of missing pipeline markers, construction activity and other factors that may threaten the pipeline. Line 109 through the neighborhood was last patrolled in May 2014 and everything was found to be normal.

    Leak Surveys: PG&E conducts leak surveys at least annually of its natural gas transmission pipelines. Leak surveys are generally conducted by a leak surveyor walking above the pipeline with leak detection instruments. Line 109 was last leak surveyed in April 2014 and no leaks were found.

    Cathodic Protection System Inspections: PG&E utilizes an active cathodic protection (CP) system on its gas transmission and steel distribution pipelines to protect them against corrosion. PG&E inspects its CP systems every two months to ensure they are operating correctly. The CP systems on Line 109 in your area were last inspected in May 2014 and were found to be operating correctly.

    Integrity Assessments: There are three federally-approved methods to complete a transmission pipeline integrity management baseline assessment: In-Line Inspections (ILI), External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) and Pressure Testing. An In-Line Inspection involves a tool (commonly known as a “pig”) being inserted into the pipeline to identify any areas of concern such as potential metal loss (corrosion) or geometric abnormalities (dents) in the pipeline. An ECDA involves an indirect, above-ground electrical survey to detect coating defects and the level of cathodic protection. Excavations are performed to do a direct examination of the pipe in areas of concern as required by federal regulations. Pressure testing is a strength test normally conducted using water, which is also referred to as a hydrostatic test.

    PG&E performed an ECDA on Line 109 in this area in 2009 and no issues were found. PG&E plans to perform the next ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2015. PG&E also performed an ICDA (Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment) on L-109 near 3516 and 3526 Folsom Street in 2012, and no issues were found.

    Unfortunately, PG&E cannot provide the documentation from these inspections because they contain confidential information that PG&E only provides to its regulators.

    QUESTION(S) 9: Is this pipeline equivalent in type to the exploded pipeline in San Bruno?

    RESPONSE(S) 9: Line 109 near 3516 and 3526 Folsom Street is not equivalent to the pipe in San Bruno that failed. The pipeline in San Bruno that failed was PG&E natural gas transmission pipeline L-132, which had a diameter of 30 inches, was installed in 1956, and had an MAOP of 400 psig. As described in the responses above, L-109 in your area is a 26-inch diameter pipeline, was installed in 1981, and operates at an MAOP of 150 psig.

    • Excellent information to add to this “discussion”. Also excellent that you are responding to this community and looking at add factual information. Those who are doubtful should provide reasons they are doubtful. Both your and Todd’s reports on PG&E’s information about this line say very similar things, and I haven’t seen a cogent rebuttal of the information PG&E has provided.

      • FYI The questions above were submitted to Mr. L. by a group of concerned neighbors after he did not respond to their concerns. Then he sent them to PG&E in response to the community’s request. Just to clarify the facts.

    • For greater clarity: Mr. Lannoye did not have the answers to the questions regarding PG&E. The neighbors sent the questions to both him and PG&E. Mr. Lannoye then also sent them to PG&E. Subsequently, as noted by Mr. L, a representative from PG&E came to the meeting to answer the questions.

      • 72 Gates assessed value: $62,788.

        You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. The property tax laws in this state are insane.

      • Agreed. Most of these homes are really valued from $900k – $1.8m. In my opinion each should be reassessed and taxed accordingly. Everyone should pay their fair share. Each of these undervalued homes has been getting a free ride, while the rest of us have been subsidizing their portion of the services provided by the city. Just think if everyone paid their fair share, property taxes could possibly be lowered across the board and that would be a great thing for everyone. Better services, lower crime rate, better/more low income housing, more programs for at-risk-youth and better schools. I think these nice folks should lead the way and demand their homes to be reassessed, to volunteer time to petition all neighborhoods to have this happen for the common good. There are bigger concerns to champion and providing the means through fair and equal taxation is the right thing to do. It’s patriotic and democratic. God Bless America, God Bless Bernal!

    • @Bernal Neighbor This concerned group… would be the nice folks on Gates/Chapman/Folsom who want to preserve their homesteading and unprotected view? Did you list your true concerns e.g. please don’t block my view/please don’t use my private garden? Just to clarify the facts… Fabian did the correct and prudent thing. You need to remember this is his property, his project and his responsibility. He doesn’t need to respond to you, just the city/county. Please watch the video 10 times, sing along, take a deep breath and repeat another 10 times. You’ll feel and be much better, I promise. I’ll even give you a hug once you understand that this doesn’t really concern you and your concerned neighbors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq734_nZ7Eo

  29. Take this Bernal Heights scenario, multiply it by 10 and you’ve got imminent danger for the residents of the Skyline Heights and Serramonte Ridge apartment complexes in Daly City. Line 109 is not only exposed and without “cover” in some places, but is lacking any safety records and just a few feet from the San Andreas earthquake fault. The steep, undevelopable cliffs containing thick eucalyptus groves (and an enormous amount of wildlife) adjacent to the pipeline and these apartment communities just skirted around a CEQA and simultaneously received a density bonus from DC’s planning commission three weeks before the start of a still-ongoing flurry of secretive (they won’t return 20 calls or answer 20 questions) pipeline-centric excavation activity.

    Can anyone explain what the heck is going on here?

    • And yes, the segment of line 109 I’m speaking of runs the entire length of each apartment comes and just ten feet from the front doors of every unit. Gauging from the 1930’s style pressure monitoring boxes in my front yard I’m guessing this segment of the pipeline is pretty ancient, relatively speaking. The least they could do is cover the pipeline with some steel plates or something. Makes my stomach turn every time I walk by it to get my mail.

  30. Pingback: Tonight: Design Review for Two Proposed Homes at the Tippy-Top of Coso | Bernalwood

  31. Pingback: Citing Pipleline Fears, Neighbors Seek to Delay New Homes on Folsom | Bernalwood

  32. Pingback: Supervisors to Consider Neighbors’ Appeal of New Homes Proposed on Folsom | Bernalwood

Comments are closed.