Gateway Community Watch Meeting Covers Emergency Preparedness

Will you be ready in case a fire, earthquake or other disaster makes it necessary to evacuate your building?

Do you even know where to go?

A meeting of the Gateway Community Watch from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11 at the Holding Company in 2 Embarcadero Center focused on emergency preparedness to answer these questions and more.

The meetings have been spearheaded by the Golden Gateway Tenants Association.

Irina Chatsova of of San Francisco SAFE and Gateway resident Sue Rokaw, who is the community watch point person, facilitated the meeting. About 20 people attended.

First to speak were Jose Angulo, operations manager for the Gateway Apartments and Townhomes, and Clarisse Tan, director of property management for the Gateway.

“For each building we have, there are different emergency plans and procedures, and maps are on here,” Tan said, holding a copy of the plan. It includes maps of fire extinguishers, exits, assembly areas and more.

“It’s important to know where to go and how to react in emergency situations,” she added.

If you want a copy of the plans, you can email your name and email to and Tan will email it to you, or the leasing office has print copies.

She said the assembly areas for a fire drill or real emergency are as follows:

Vista North: Sydney Walton Square
Vista South and East: Sue Bierman Park West
Vista West: corner of Battery and Jackson streets

Tan said a fire drill will be held on Thursday, Nov. 13 for Vista South.

A question was raised about the plan for people with mobility issues.

“During fire drills, we update the list of all residents with mobility issues,” Angulo said. It’s updated every year (fire drills area held annually in each building), he said, but people should also call the Gateway office to update the list.

Angulo said the Gateway sends a form each year to ask people to send in emergency contact information, but not everyone fills it out.

Tan added that an account manager for corporate housing handles the communications to those residents.

Another question was raised about who sends the “all clear” after a fire drill, because residents often aren’t told and aren’t aware of when to return.

Angulo said in the daytime, someone from the Gateway office does it, and at night, it’s a patrol person.

Tan said she will make sure at the next drill that everyone knows when the “all clear” is given.

Angulo also noted that the Gateway is part of the Building Occupancy Resumption Program through the city’s Department of Building Inspection, which is a pre-certified emergency inspection that allows occupants to return to their homes as quickly as possible after an earthquake.

Next up was San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Erica Arteseros, NERT Program Coordinator, who spoke about the need for volunteer community participation in case of an emergency.

“The numbers don’t add up,” she said, meaning that if too many residents need assistance all at once, there aren’t enough emergency responders to go around.

“That’s why we ask the citizens in our city to take an active role if we have an earthquake in San Francisco,” Lt. Arteseros added.

After an earthquake, she said, some things won’t be there: Phone service could be out. Water could stop running.

She suggested having a “buddy” elsewhere in the city or area so you can stay with that person if their home is safe and vice-versa.

Also, have an emergency contact person out of state to call via pay phone, if needed, to let them know your status and to contact the buddy for you, if needed.

She also recommended having a battery-operated AM/FM radio with extra batteries taped to it in a baggie. Radio stations will broadcast messages during an emergency.

Also, go to and register your mobile phone number for texting, if you have it, because Arteseros said texting should be more reliable that phone service – it was the first system to come back after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, she said.

Lt. Arteseros reminded people not to call 911 except in cases of life-threatening emergencies – not just to get information. She said a recent glitch in the emergency outdoor warning system prompted a flurry of calls to 911.

Instead, she said, use 311 or the non-emergency police number, 415-553-0123.

Someone asked if the city has a way to contact everyone to give emergency information. Lt. Arteseros said that is “reverse 911,” and the city doesn’t have that system.

Another question came up about access to medications.

Lt. Arteseros said it’s important to have a reserve set of items in a “go bag” or to keep your pill box filled so it’s easy to grab.

She also said not to stress about which specific list to follow in preparing an earthquake kit, because many agencies have them and they differ slightly. Just pick one and get it ready.

The next personal emergency preparedness training that will go into more detail about these items in a two-hour session will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center (Tel-Hi), 660 Lombard near Columbus.

A schedule of full Neighborhood Emergency Response Training (NERT) for 2015 will come out in the next few weeks, Lt. Arteseros said. Visit the NERT website for the schedule and information, or call 415-970-2022 for details or to sign up.

To read more about NERT, click here.

Wrapping up, Chatsova said the Gateway will be working on a plan for a support system.

She also recapped concerns from the previous meeting on Oct. 3, which included entry control (preventing “tailgating” into buildings), homeless encampments, lack of security, pedestrian safety and car break-ins.

This reporter also addressed the group, saying she and GGTA President Bill Hannan had been communicating with Rec and Parks for months on trying to get more lighting installed, and asked for everyone to write a letter in support. Gateway resident Ernestine Weiss said she was also in talks with Rec and Parks about the same issue.

Another resident asked if anyone had talked to management about getting more cameras in the building, and Chatsova said she would talk to SFPD Central Station Capt. David Lazar and work on it.

She added there won’t be a community watch meeting in December due to the holiday season.

“Hopefully we’ll have the new district supervisor in January, and the plan is to invite our new district supervisor to the meeting,” Chatsova said. “If that happens, we’ll have even more participation.”

Rokaw concluded by saying, “If you could each reach out to one person so the next time we have a meeting in January, we’ll double the number of people and we’ll be more effective.”