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Oral Testimony at the San Francisco Planning Commission

Statement in Support of Rebuilding CPMC

Good afternoon President Fong and Commissioners.  My name is Chris Poland. I am a Structural Engineer, Chairman of Degenkolb Engineers in San Francisco, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a member of the Board of Directors of SPUR. I believe that the time has come to approve CPMC plans to build two new state- of-the-art hospitals that will be safe and fully operational after the next great earthquake. 

As you are well aware, California sits on the edge of the Pacific plate. We call it the ring of fire. The recent earthquakes in Indonesia, Chile, New Zealand and Japan remind us that this is one of the most active earthquake regions in the world. We know that a major earthquake will occur in California sometime in the next 30 years. If it happens here this afternoon, we are expecting heavy, casualties in the thousands and injuries in the tens of thousands. We need our hospitals.

Our recovery depends on San Francisco being disaster-resilient. We must have disaster response plans that assure the ability to govern and provide the flexibility needed to recover quickly. Each one of us needs to understand what has happened and work together to shelter-in-place.  Our power, water, and communication networks must begin operating again shortly after the  disaster, and within weeks people need to be living normally at home, have access to healthcare and the services they depend on,  able to travel as needed, and have resumed a fairly normal routine so they can go about rebuilding the City.

I am pleased to say that San Francisco is on a deliberate path to becoming seismically resilient city. The Mayor’s Resilient SF initiative is working to establish and implement programs that will assure a quick recovery.   These programs involve emergency preparedness that includes neighborhood based response centers, an earthquake safety improvement program for privately owned buildings, programs to improve City owned buildings, a lifelines council, and much more.

A seismically resilient San Francisco needs its hospitals to be fully operational after a major earthquake.   Unfortunately, most of our hospitals were built prior to the mid 80’s and will most likely not be usable.   Some will actually collapse and kill the occupants. A major earthquake today would leave San Francisco with precious few beds to serve the injured.   These CPMC replacement hospitals on Cathedral Hill and at St Luke’s will significantly change that picture, but they must be completed. The time has come to honor the years of work that has brought these projects to an acceptable level and approve this application.   Rebuilding CPMC must start as soon as possible.

When the next major earthquake occurs, San Franciscan’s want and deserve to have modern earthquake safe facilities that they can turn to for help. I urge you to approve this plan and all the benefits it will bring to our city.


Filed Under: Community, Degenkolb, Earthquake, Engineering
Posted by lanachan on April 26, 2012 1:46 PM
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