On Tuesday, San Bruno formally asked the CPUC to include the city as a beneficiary in any future settlement with PG&E and on Wednesday the city called a press conference. Those two things seemed to have gotten the utility's attention. Just before the conference was set to take place, the PG&E called the city to schedule a meeting for Friday.
San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane says PG&E is dodging its commitment to make the city whole and that negotiations for more money broke down last week. "I think we've reached a couple small agreements but for the most part, a lot of it is red-lined and not getting to where we want to get. We feel that we have, in fact, been stalled in these negotiations and that's why we brought it to the public," he said.
The September 2010 pipeline explosion and fire killed eight people, destroyed 38 homes, and badly damaged 70 more. PG&E set up two funds. First, a $100 million Rebuild San Bruno Fund, of which $45 million has been spent so far. That was money mostly for victim's immediate needs right after the disaster. Then, there is a separate trust for the city to be funded up to $70 million for rebuilding infrastructure, of which $12 million has been paid so far.
However, San Bruno city leaders say the community needs more than new sidewalks and landscaping. "We felt we were entitled to something else on top of that. Those funds are only to be used for that and the trust fund language is very restrictive as far as what those funds can be used for," Ruane said. Their funding wish list includes scholarships for neighborhood children and help for youth sports leagues.
PG&E says it is not stalling and is onboard with San Bruno's goals. "At the end of the day we very much respect the position the city leaders are in and their desire that this process move forward expeditiously. And, we're committed to making that happen," PG&E Senior Vice President Greg Pruett said.
The neighborhood still looks like the disaster zone it was. People there just want PG&E to build on the lots it now owns. "Why aren't they building?" resident Nellie Bishop asked. "Maybe there's reasons why, but we would just like to get the neighborhood back."
The mayor says that any decisions on how to use any possible additional funding will definitely involve the entire communities input, so none of the ideas submitted so far are set in stone.