Letters to the Editor

Week of 3-28-2007

Tales From the Dark Side

ASIAN Inc. responds:The article "Power Failure" [March 7] contained many inaccurate and misleading statements despite the fact that reporter Mary Spicuzza received timely changes and clarifications before printing. Instead, the reporter intentionally misstated and sensationalized the facts, and omitted material facts on what parties tirelessly did to restore power and to meet tenants' needs for shelter and food during this crisis.

Many tenants praised the efforts of ASIAN Inc., MH Construction, Building Inspection, PG&E, Muni, Public Works, and the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services during this crisis.

Since SF Weekly neglected its responsibility to report the news accurately, we write this letter to set the record straight.

Reference to the property as a "firetrap" was inaccurate. The building was purchased in 1992 and there is no history of a single fire incident other than an electrical fire at the main disconnect switch on Nov. 13, 2006.

The 2003 building violation mentioned was for lack of a "Main Disconnect Switch" only, and ASIAN hired an electrical contractor who installed the switch in a timely fashion, but didn't call the building inspector to sign off on the completed work. ASIAN apologizes for any confusion.

The article incorrectly referenced a "food allowance" of $30 per day for tenant households. The actual food allowance was $30.00 per day per person in the legal tenant household. In example, a tenant household of four persons received $120 per day.

Reference to ASIAN Inc. as an unresponsive property manager is totally incorrect. ASIAN was immediately on-site on the evening of Nov. 13 to assist the tenants; Tuesday, Nov. 14th, ASIAN was on-site with Building Inspection and an electrical contractor; Wednesday, Nov. 15th, it was determined repairs wouldn't solve the problem and the PG&E transformer of 400 amps which predated the personal computer couldn't meet the building's power needs and had to be replaced; Thursday, Nov. 16th even an electrical generator for temporary power was not possible. ASIAN then moved to secure a contractor and engineer to proceed with the design, permits, and construction that would meet Building Inspection and PG&E requirements. Given this, Building Inspection cooperatively informed ASIAN to close the building on Monday, Nov. 20th. On Friday, Nov. 17th, ASIAN provided hotel rooms and moving assistance to every tenant household.

ASIAN found rooms at the Carlton Hotel, and later Cathedral Hill Hotel, but the holidays and scheduled renovations had tenants moving back and forth between hotels. ASIAN secured 40 rooms to accommodate larger households among the 36 tenant households. Allegations of eight persons per room are false; had this occurred it would only be a result of a tenant voluntarily admitting other guests or visitors into their room without ASIAN's knowledge. Given these factual circumstances, it was extraordinary for ASIAN and Building Inspection to respond so rapidly and effectively.

SF Weekly's failure to get the facts or to report them accurately has resulted in harm to the reputations of ASIAN Inc. and its partners by implying neglect of our responsibilities. This is totally untrue and irresponsible on the part of SF Weekly.

Michael A. Chan

President of ASIAN Inc.

San Francisco

Spicuzza responds: I did not intentionally misstate or sensationalize facts, and I made numerous attempts to contact Michael Chan and ASIAN Inc. in the weeks leading up to the article. The article did reference a $30-a-day food allowance, but did not specify the food allowance was per person per day in a legal tenant household. We apologize if there was any confusion on that point.

MH Construction responds:The article entitled "Power Failure" contained inaccurate and misleading statements about the restoration of the electrical power at 1030 Polk St.

First of all, the reporter described the contractor as a politically connected person. MH was brought into the project to restore power based on its ability, and not its political relationships.

Also, the PG&E spokesperson said the excavation for the new transformer occurred in January 2007, when in fact the excavation for the vault and installation of the transformer vault was completed on Dec. 23, 2006. The reference by PG&E's spokesperson to lengthy delays due to a change in contractor and scope of work was untrue. Yes, the initial electrical contractor was replaced by MH Construction and an electrical subcontractor, because the original contractor needed to subcontract significant portions of the work and would have incurred very substantial delays. In regard to the initial scope of work for a 600 amp service and transformer, the change by FW Associates, electrical engineers, was to substitute a 1200 amp transformer, to prevent a reoccurrence of any power outage that would require a future shutdown of the transformer.

In addition, PG&E specified late in the review process a special drip pan that had to be specially fabricated. MH expedited fabrication of this equipment by the manufacturer, and all required equipment was installed in the third week of January. MH Construction's work, including evaluation, design, special ordering, a special moratorium permit, construction/excavation permits, and installation was fully completed within five weeks.

MH Construction, the contractor, kept PG&E informed of our progress and of work completed to coordinate the scheduling of PG&E work crews. MH assumed that there was an understanding that the PG&E crew would be on-site as soon as all equipment was installed in the third week in January. However, to clarify the installation schedule, MH requested Asian Inc., PG&E, and DPW to convene a meeting to coordinate the completion of the project. DPW's intervention and assistance expedited PG&E's restoration of power on Feb. 6.

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