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Nancy Weurfel
City Hall Addressed Wuerfel’s Concern About the City’s “Emergency Water Supply System” to Fight Fires.

Remembering the Heroine We Lost in 2023 and Lahaina Maui Wildfire

A Tribute to Nancy Wuerfel, Mentor to Many

Why Aren’t the “Emergency Warning Sirens” Turned Back On?

Remote Participation in City Government ended abruptly on October 17, taken away despite state-of-the-art technology used by most San Franciscans to make their lives easier and better. Having lost remote Internet connectively, we’ve been sidelined — reduced to sitting in the shadows.

• • • • • • • • • • December 20, 2023 • • • • • • • • • •

As we march into the 2024 New Year, our local heroine, Nancy Wuerfel, deserves another tribute before we close out 2023.

I had known of Nancy and her good government advocacy for years, sometimes crossing her path when we both attended the Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee (CGOBOC) meetings at City Hall. Nancy and I shared deep concerns about how General Obligation Bonds (GOB) — passed by voters at the ballot box — were being misused and misspent on everything from road repair to parks, to affordable housing and everything in between.

Like me, Ms. Wuerfel was a long-time contributor and columnist to the Westside Observer newspaper when it was still a print publication and into its digital present. Her earliest articles in the Observer’s archive date back to February 2011. My own articles archived at the Observer date back to February 2008, when I was publishing articles mostly focused on cost overruns of the Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH) rebuild project that eventually reached $195 million in overruns. The cost overruns resulted in the downsizing of LHH from 1,200 patient beds to just 780 beds due to the Department of Public Health’s and LHH’s mismanagement of construction “change orders” on the $400 million rebuild bond voters passed.

When I attended CGOBOC meetings in 2008 to testify about the problems with the flood of “change orders” threatening the downsizing of LHH, Nancy and I would frequently talk before CGOBOC meetings started and afterward in City Hall hallways about various projects we were each working on. At the time, CGOBOC’s chairperson, Abraham Simmons, understood that there was indeed a lack of internal controls on all bond-funded capital improvement projects over “change orders,” leading to serious accountability problems involving bond spending. Wuerfel was just as concerned about “change orders,” much more concerned about them than City Controller Ben Rosenfield — or before Ben, Ed Harrington.

I began to think of her as one of my smartest mentors, a role she unwittingly became. I learned enormously from her dogged pursuit of financial information from City Controller Ben Rosenfield, and public information officers and public records staff in various City departments.


If Nancy were still with us, I venture she could go through the budgets and financial records of the City’s Department of Technology and Information Services (DTIS), and the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) — to name just two City departments — to find that little $5.5 million needle in a haystack to turn on the emergency siren system.”

Wuerfel’s PROSAC Service and Noe Valley Town Square

I first began corresponding with Nancy when she e-mailed me a congratulatory note in February 2012 when news surfaced that the Society of Professional Journalist’s–Northern California Chapter (SPJ-NorCal) bestowed its “James Madison Freedom of Information Award” in the “Advocacy” category in March 2012 for my series of Westside Observer articles reporting on the problems with the LHH rebuild and shrinkage of the facility, since I had been placing so many public records requests to document what was happening to our beloved skilled nursing facility for the elderly and disabled (where I had been employed between 1999 and 2010). Wuerfel and my other colleagues at the Observer attended the awards dinner to support me. It was the first such award made to Observer columnists, but not the last.

In August 2012, aware that Nancy served on the “Park, Recreation, Open Space Advisory Committee” (PROSAC) comprised of 13 members, I e-mailed Nancy with a question about the then-proposed “Noe Valley Town Square” project. PROSAC is a 13-member Committee comprised of 11 members appointed by the Board of Supervisors (one appointment by each of the 11 Supervisors), plus an appointee chosen by the Mayor and the final appointee chosen by the president of the Board of Supervisors.

The Committee’s primary purpose is to submit written comments to the City’s Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) on its proposed strategic, capital, and operational plans and assist RPD in conducting public hearings to take public comment on the Department’s budget and programming allocations prior to adoption by the Recreation and Parks Commission. Commission members are expected to have relevant experience with park, environmental, recreational, cultural, sports, youth, disability, racial equity, or senior citizen issues for appointment to PROSAC.

Wuerfel was knowledgeable about PROSAC and neighborhood rec and park issues since she had served on PROSAC for nine years.

So, I reached out to her asking if she knew whether it was appropriate for the “Residents for Noe Valley Town Square” to be planning to ask RPD for $2 million from the Open Space Fund to convert a parking lot in Noe Valley into a Town Square “park” featuring a farmer’s market on weekends. A San Francisco Chronicle article on June 28, 2012 reported then-Mayor Lee and then-Supervisor Scott Wiener were very supportive of using the Open Space Fund for the Noe Valley Town Square project.

Wiener was supportive, in part because he had appointed Town Square champion Todd David to serve on the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF), which had ruled that Supervisor Wiener, David Chiu, and others had violated the Sunshine Ordinance by rushing through amendments to other land use legislation pending before the Board of Supervisors without adequate public notice beforehand. Wiener appointed Mr. David to SOTF to help reign in SOTF. David was active with the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and a YIMBY on housing issues and was, in turn, very supportive of Supervisor Wiener’s own YIMBY policies.

Mr. David was formerly the political director for the “Scott Wiener For State Senate 2016” committee, formerly the executive director for the “Housing Action Coalition” until 2022 (a YIMBY group), and is currently the political director for “Abundant SF,” a new “network of tech families” political group that intends to spend up to $5 million a year over decades “to radically rewrite the script on housing, transportation, education and public spaces in the city.”

Abundant SF” has reportedly pledged to help Wiener’s campaign to replace Nancy Pelosi in the U.S. Congress, where Wiener will go on to force his YIMBY approach to housing nationwide. (Watch out, America: If Wiener wins election to Pelosi’s congressional seat, there goes more affordable housing!) Because Wiener’s “approach” included eliminating the deed-restricted senior and affordable housing on the land that is now the Noe Valley Town Square, and his YIMBY approach and State legislation are poised to take over soon, complete control of affordable housing land use laws in San Franciso, and the City’s Housing Element. (See a recent San Francisco Standard article on Wiener’s and David’s SB 427.)

It won’t be surprising if Todd David becomes Wiener’s political director for the “Scott Wiener for U.S. House of Congress” committee.

Abundant SF” is also reportedly planning to spend heavily on Mayor London’s “Anti-Affordable Housing” Breed’s re-election campaign in 2024.

Wuerfel responded to my query. She said that a large part of what PROSAC does involves the acquisition of open space for our parks using the Open Space Fund. She was concerned that there was an unresolved backlog of land to buy from promises and decisions made since the late 1990s. “Everyone was waiting for the pot to grow big enough to start acquiring [land] for [projects] we said we would [recommend for funding],” she replied.

Wuerfel shared with me that the 24th Street Noe Valley site had some “baggage.” She wrote:

The title [to the Noe Valley Town Square land] is clouded by the Planning Dept, which put a Notice of Special Restrictions [NSR] on the deed for the parking lot that REQUIRES the site be used for senior/affordable housing there ‘as a condition of removing the auto shop.’ The owner knew this when they changed the land use of the site to a parking lot.

“This NSR has not gone away.
“Then, there is the toxic problem from the old auto shop that somebody has to address. Parks should not be toxic. Then there is this tight time frame. It’s contingent on when the owner wants to sell the land, and for how much. The owner bought the property in 2001 for $1.3 million — [and] now it’s for sale for $4+ million.

“PROSAC saw this ‘squeeze play’ lots of times by property owners wanting to get top dollar from city funds that they could not get from private developers. Hence, this is the reason why PROSAC sought to have controls on our public funds to be sure the city was not extorted. But PROSAC is only advisory. The city bureaucrats still run the show. When public money is involved, it is who you know ...

She also replied:

Enter Noe Valley parking lot. This is a recent request to use Open Space Funds!!!! What about all the other parts of San Francisco who have been waiting patiently for their open space sites to be acquired? Let us honor those sites by acquiring or removing them from the existing list BEFORE we diminish our pot of money on buying land promoted by new, politically well connected advocates.”

Nancy was, of course, referring to Mr. David’s political connections to Scott Wiener. She went on to share with me:

Everyone should worry about this purchase since it sets the threshold for how our public money will be spent in the future. Will it be by political connections, or by what is appropriate for a well balanced Rec and Park and open space system in San Francisco.”

But there you have it. Rather than receiving the $2 million Todd David had sought from the Open Space Fund, Scott Wiener secured $600,000 in City General Funds for the Noe Valley Town Square through the Board of Supervisors and convinced RPD to use Open Space Funds. The City apparently dished out $6.5 million in City funding — including from the general fund — for the Town Square’s initial $7 million budget, with approximately $500,000 from neighborhood fundraising efforts. It seems Todd David was handed over $4 million to purchase the land using Open Space Funds. Despite the Notice of Special Restrictions requiring use of the land for senior and/or affordable housing, the NIMBY conspirators — David and Wiener — got the town square project funded, ostensibly without any toxic clean up of the land that became a “park” via a Town Square that just so happens to sit in the boundaries of Wiener’s former District 8 supervisorial district.

Separately, Assembly Member Matt Haney secured a state-funded $1.7 million grant. Governor Newsom had threatened to withhold over a proposed $1.7 million public toilet for the Town Square site, the cost of which was later reduced by $425,000.

The Town Square project was leapfrogged over the backlog of projects waiting to be funded by the Open Space Fund that Nancy was afraid would happen, given Wiener’s greasing of the wheels for Todd David, because Wiener represented Noe Valley on the Board of Supervisors.

Wuerfel was clearly prescient, noting that it’s all about “who you know when it comes to how public money is spent.” A large part of her accountability work in San Francisco involved exposing that problem. And she was absolutely right that everyone should worry about it!

Finally, Nancy wrote me about the Noe Valley Town Square project:

When the institutional history of a program for land acquisition is gone, then the corruption is free to begin again. Many of us, who remember our reason for being on PROSAC and the oversight of the open space funds, are now off the committee.

It was another prescient warning that with the passing of Ms. Wuerfel, and other accountability “watchdogs” and good-government advocates and the attendant loss of “institutional memory,” we had all better worry that another generation of advocates and watchdogs will step into the void of our passings, and take over where we left off.

Nancy’s Leadership With Open Public Meetings

Five years after the Noe Valley Town Square debacle, Nancy stepped forward to support my advocacy for broadcasting CGOBOC meetings on SFGOV-TV cable television.

In March 2022, CGOBOC was considering whether to step into the 21st century by funding the broadcasting of its meetings. I testified at a few CGOBOC preliminary meetings that since one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of each bond passed by voters is allocated to funding administrative “overhead” expenses for operating CGOBOC, they should use some of their administrative funds to pay for the video and audio recording of their meetings on SFGOV-TV.

On March 22, 2017, Wuerfel submitted her public testimony to CGOBOC that she shared with me via e-mail:

I strongly support CGOBOC being broadcast on SFGOV-TV and archiving its meetings to be shown on demand. Please vote to approve such a decision at your meeting on March 23.
Nothing does more good for democracy than transparency in the actions a government takes to show the people what it is doing, and in today’s world, being captured on SFGOV-TV is right at the top of my list of keeping everyone informed. There is no reason not to be archived this way.”

Privately, Nancy later e-mailed me, writing:

Just before the meeting started at 9:30 a.m., Ben handed me a one-page print out. CGOBOC’s current [overhead administrative account] balance is $1.736 million! So, I introduced that in my oral comments during [CGOIBOC’s] General Public Comment period, although CGOBOC Chair Brian Larkin had tried to restrict the public comment agenda item to only matters that were NOT on today’s agenda. I plowed ahead anyway, saying that if they have $1.73 million, then funding $9,500 for the SFGOV-TV to record and archive online the meetings, they have plenty of money to do so. “

She was referring to City Controller Bed Rosenfield, who routinely and consistently attends CGOBOC meetings himself since the City Controller is ultimately responsible for monitoring and ensuring that bond funds are only spent on approved projects. Rosenfield had always been in somewhat awe of Wuerfel’s standing as an accountability watchdog and her reputation in the community for digging into voluminous City financial records.

I like to think Rosenfield was always somewhat concerned about what Nancy might uncover doing her meticulous homework, and what she might expose. He knew she was a force to be reckoned with, and God bless her heart! It wasn’t that Ben was afraid of Nancy. He clearly understood she wasn’t afraid of standing up to him or standing up to any City Hall political insiders, either. She was that fearless!

Unfortunately, Nancy passed away on August 25, 2023, just one month before Supervisor Aaron Peskin over-reacted during a full Board of Supervisors meeting on September 26, during which he made an instant decision to end taking remote public comment from callers unable to attend Board and Commission meetings in person.

An article I published on October 26, details how San Franciscans lost their ability to provide remote public comment during public meetings. This right died on October 17, thanks to Supervisor Peskin’s overreacting.

Had Ms. Wuerfel still been alive, I believe she would have strongly opposed ending remote public comment. And I believe she would not have been happy with Peskin’s stunt.

Just as she believed, “Nothing does more good for democracy than transparency in the actions a government takes to show the people what it is doing,” I suspect she also believed democracy is strengthened when people can participate remotely in their government’s meetings.

Nancy’s Leadership on the EWSS

The Westside Observer reported on June 28, 2023 that the Board of Supervisors honored Nancy Wuerfel, a long-time community activist as well as a frequent contributor to the Westside Observer, on June 13, 2023 with a commendation that outlined some of the many projects Nancy was involved in over the past 22 years. The article quoted Supervisor Peskin as saying, “Nancy Wuerfel was the Sherlock Holmes of City bureaucracy for decades. She set her magnifying glass on obscure volumes of City records to find corruption, contradictions, incompetence, and malfeasance.”

In a subsequent tribute written by another Westside Observer columnist, George Wooding, on August 31 after Nancy had passed away, Wooding noted that among other significant contributions Nancy had made, she had been a leading critic and champion of the “Emergency Water Supply System” (EWSS) desperately needed to put out fires on the West Side of San Francisco in the event of another conflagration caused by a major earthquake. Like the 1906 earthquake that burned much of San Francisco to the ground. [Note: The EWSS is alternatively known as the “Auxiliary Water Supply System” (AWSS).]

Wooding wrote:

Perhaps Wuerfel’s greatest accomplishment as a citizen advocate was to help force San Francisco to begin to complete the Emergency Water Supply System (EWSS). The EWSS is a high-pressure water system designed to fight large fires. The West Side of San Francisco needs the EWSS system immediately, but the EWSS was stalled for years because of political interference and City financial finagling. Despite significant challenges, Wuerfel, with her many friends and contacts, moved the project [forward] again.”

Wuerfel had conducted her multi-year campaign to get the EWSS system funded, built, and brought online. She was instrumental in mobilizing San Francisco voters to pass Proposition B on the March 2020 ballot, a $628.5 million “Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response” (ESER) bond that includes approximately $153.5 million for EWSS projects.

It’s unknown if the EWSS system will be completed by 2025, as promised, and operational. It’s somewhat sad Nancy passed away before the EWSS was fully completed.

San Franciso’s Emergency Warning Siren System

Closely related to the “Emergency Water Supply System” in the event of a major earthquake that could trigger massive fires in the City, our “Emergency Warning Siren System” is a key component of disaster planning and preparedness in earthquake-prone San Francisco. Unfortunately, our City officials turned off the emergency warning sirens four years ago, in 2019, afraid the system of 119 sirens could be hacked into.

The sirens have remained turned off ever since.

I suspect Ms. Wuerfel was as unhappy with out sirens being shut down as she was unhappy over the endless bureaucratic delays in funding the EWSS. She died just 15 days after massive fires swept through Maui, destroying the city of Lahaina on August 8, 2023. It’s unknown whether Nancy was alert enough in the days preceding her death to have understood that Maui’s sirens hadn’t been activated during a wildfire emergency.

Maui officials had decided not to activate and sound the island’s emergency sirens as wildfires approached Lahaina, claiming they feared coastal residents would have fled inland to higher ground, which was toward the flames, since that is what Maui’s residents have been trained to do.

Without those sirens, the death toll on Maui was disastrous.

The Mission Local news outlet reported on August 16, 2023:

The city’s Department of Emergency Management [DEM} took the sirens offline at the end of 2019 for security upgrades. The sirens were supposed to return within two years. … [The December 2019 siren] shutdown has led to a four-year gap in San Francisco’s emergency notification system, leaving residents vulnerable in the event that cell phone service or internet access is knocked down.”

DEM’s “Alert SF” website and smartphone text message notification system rely on cellphone towers remaining operational. If cell towers are knocked out, “Alert SF” will be completely useless for emergency warnings. That is, in part, why the emergency warning siren system is so desperately needed, if only for redundancy purposes during actual emergencies.

The Mission Local article reported emergency officials estimated in 2019 that it would cost $2 to $2.5 million to upgrade the entire system.

The article asserted that each year since:

DEM has asked the city’s Capital Planning Committee for funds to bring the sirens back to life, but the committee keeps putting the plan on ice. And, over time, cost estimates have ballooned; overhauling the whole system would now cost closer to $3 million, said Adrienne Bechelli, the deputy director of [DEM’s] Division of Emergency Services.”

It’s worth noting that although the Mayor and Board of Supervisors theoretically have complete control over the City’s $14 billion City budget, the Capital Planning Committee (CPC) consists of 11 mostly unelected City Department heads.

The CPC is chaired by the City Administrator (Carmen Chu) and includes the President of the Board of Supervisors (Peskin), the Mayor’s Budget Director (Anna Duning), the Controller (Ben Rosenfield), the City Planning Director (Rich Hillis), the Director of Public Works (Carla Short), the Airport Director (Ivar Satero), the Executive Director of the Municipal Transportation Agency (Jeffrey Tumlin), the General Manager of the Public Utilities System, (Dennis Herrera), the General Manager of the Recreation and Parks Department (Phil Ginsburg), and the Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco (Elaine Forbes).

Why does Rec and Park (Ginsberg) have a seat on the CPC, but the director of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health (Grant Colfax) does not? Are parks more important than public health?
Why do these 10 unelected City officials have final say over the life-and-death safety of 815,201 San Franciscans (as of 2021) who rely on our “Emergency Warning Siren System” that should be protecting us in the event of tsunamis, wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters that are worsening due to the effects of climate change?

The Mission Local article reported:

San Francisco’s current Capital Plan includes nearly $41 billion in infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years, $1.4 billion of which will go toward public safety needs. That will cover upgrades to fire and police stations, county jails, the 911 call center and the emergency firefighting water supply system.”

The Mission Local article noted: “‘The [CPC] decided not to move forward’ with funding the outdoor warning system, said Angela Yip, a legislative analyst with the City Administrator’s office. ‘It funded other things’.” A legislative analyst? Really?

Supervisor Peskin asserted privately in September that approximately $5.5 million is needed to turn on and perhaps upgrade the emergency siren’s system. That $5.5 million of the $41 billion 10-year capital projects budget translates to a scant 0.013% of the $41 billion. Or, the $5.5 million represents just 0.393% of the $1.4 billion for just public safety capital improvement projects.

Alternatively, the $5.5 million represents just 0.038% of the City’s current fiscal year budget of $14.6 billion Mayor Breed signed into law last July 26.

Finally, the Mission Local article reported DEM plans to bring the siren upgrade back before the Capital Planning Committee early next year in the hopes of finally winning funding.

This is bonkers. We might face a major earthquake, massive wildfires, or a tsunami before this unelected CPC gets off their collective derrières to approve a piddly $5.5 million critical siren warning system. What will be the City’s “excuse” if 1,000 San Franciscans die from the lack of a working siren system? Who will be the first to point fingers?

Peskin’s Emergency Siren Inaction

Just after the Lahaina wildfires on Maui on August 8, ABC Channel 7 in San Francisco ran a short news segment on August 17 about restoring the City’s emergency warning sirens. ABC reported Peskin had commented that because Laguna Honda Hospital had received partial recertification from the California Department of Public Health to allow Medi-Cal patients, perhaps the City wouldn’t need all of a $96 millions slush fund sitting in reserves to help LHH regain recertification.

The segment implied Peskin was planning to introduce legislation at the Board of Supervisors to locate the $5 million needed to re-activate the City’s emergency siren system.

I contacted Peskin on August 18, asking him if he was aware that LHH had received San Francisco Civil Service Commission approval on June 5 to potentially issue another $18 million in contracts to help recertify LHH (on top of the then $30 million in consulting contracts LHH had already been awarded), and that an additional $9.9 million contract was potentially headed to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

I told Peskin I’d support his plan on September 5 to seek funding to turn the emergency siren system back on. I reminded him that the $5 million to restore all of the 119 sirens represented just 0.0342% of the City’s $14.63 billionbudget for FY 23–24 just adopted.

I noted the full $5 million for turning on all of the sirens should be passed in one fell swoop and funded from the general fund, and not need Capital Funds for it.
After all, a major 6-point-plus magnitude earthquake in the next six months could level San Francisco as badly as, or worse than, the Maui Lahaina wildfires, I reasoned. A pound of prevention, was worth hundreds of millions in earthquake damage repair “cure” from lack of notification to San Franciscans.

I also shared with him that our dear friend Nancy Wuerfel — if she were still alive — probably wouldn’t be any more happy with the sirens having gone silent for over three years than she was with delays in funding the Auxiliary Water Supply System.

Peskin thanked me for the heads up about the additional $18 million approved for LHH by the Civil Service Commission. He wrote in response, “I’ll Find the $” for the emergency sirens.

Then notably, on September 5, CBS’ KPIX-TV Channel 5 carried a segment about City leaders looking to bring back emergency sirens by the end of 2024.

By the end of 2024” suggests that the sirens will have been offline for four full years by then. And that is assuming a big “if” — IF the Capital Planning Committee decides to fund the sirens in the next capital plan cycle of projects, which may be out of Peskin’s hands and in the hands of the 10 unelected members of the CPC! Wuerfel may have rolled over in her grave!

The KPIX-TV segment went on to report:

“[The emergency sirens]‘was on the perennial list of things [capital projects] to be rehabilitated. It kept falling to the bottom of the list,’ said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin.”

KPIX reported Peskin said the City plans to move forward with a plan to get the sirens back online, reporting that Peskin added-:

After the Lahaina [Maui] tragedy, everybody at City Hall realized this was not a wantto have, it was a need to have.”

There’s several problems with Peskin’s optimism. First, he has no control over the other 10 unelected members of the CPC who keep pushing the emergency sirens to the bottom of the capital projects list. There’s no guarantee that they won’t do that again. San Franciscans will be lucky to have the sirens turned back on probably by June 30, 2025, if the CPC adds the sirens into the FY 2024–2025 budget cycle, at which point the sirens will have been offline for going on five full years.

And second, Peskin is ignoring the looming $800 million deficit in Breed’s two-year budget.

Three days ago, Breed ordered all City departments on December 13 to start identifying 10% cuts to their upcoming budgets. She is now projecting a deficit of almost $800 million over the coming two budget years — $245 million in the 2024–2025 fiscal year and $554 million in the 2025–2026 fiscal year. We’ll probably be lucky if the emergency warning siren system is even turned back on before the year 2030!

Another problem is that membership on the CPC will soon change: City Controller Ben Rosenfield announced on November 2 that he is stepping down as Controller in February 2024. As for Peskin, he is termed out as a City Supervisor for the second time in November 2024. Both men know all too well where pots of money as small as $5.5 million can be found in the City’s $14-billion budget.

By 2024, there may no longer be City officials and members on the CPC who remember this history so that San Franciscans will loose even more “historical knowledge and institutional memory.”

Just as we did with the passing our heroine, Nancy Wuerfel.

If Nancy were still with us, I venture she could go through the budgets and financial records of the City’s Department of Technology and Information Services (DTIS), and the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) — to name just two City departments — to find that little $5.5 million needle in a haystack to turn on the emergency siren system. I venture Wuerfel could find that needed $5.5 million somewhere in the bowels of Breed’s $14.6 billion current budget.

Without having to beg the Capital Planning Committee to bring this project to the top of the list and without needing more general obligation bonds to fund the project.

We should note that after Laguna Honda Hospital was decertified in April 2022, the City has thrown almost $130 million in City funds to help LHH get recertified. The $5.5 million for the emergency sirens represents just 4.2% of that $130 million.

If the City could find $130 million to rescue LHH and $6.5 million to build the Noe Valley Town Square, surely it can rapidly find $5.5 million to get the sirens turned on within the next four months and not have to wait until the end of 2024 to get them turned on, or “sometime after” the year 2025 or 2030.

Meanwhile, San Franciscans might want to pray those sirens won’t be needed in the short term before the year 2030.

I was lucky to have Nancy Wuerfel as a mentor. Let’s hope someone — or many someone’s — step in to fill her shoes.

Rest in Peace, Nancy. You’re sorely missed now!


Monette-Shaw is a columnist for San Francisco’s Westside Observer newspaper, and a member of the California First Amendment, Coalition (FAC) and the ACLU. He operates Contact him at


December 20, 2023


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