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Treasure Island Has 8th Power Outage of 2020

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A power outage hit Treasure Island on Thursday around midnight, making it the eighth blackout the neighborhood has experienced in 2020.

Two neighborhood restaurants, Mersea and Aracely Cafe, were broken into during the power outage, according to their Instagrams. In addition to sewage backups, fried electronics and food spoilage, break-ins are also a consequence of the island’s regular blackouts.

These power outages aren’t new. Treasure Island has endured at least five during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more in the past 20 years. It’s proven especially difficult for residents trying to work from home or shelter in place — when the power goes out, so does the WiFi and cellular service. Blackouts last for four hours on average.

“People are frustrated. People are upset,” Treasure Island resident Barklee Sanders says. Sanders has been actively lobbying for back-up batteries to mitigate the neighborhoods constant blackouts. “People worry about their children having to go to school, people worry about their medical devices. Businesses are getting broken into. I just don’t get it. We have no power.”

This blackout comes in the middle of ongoing renovations to the neighborhood’s electrical infrastructure, helmed by the Treasure Island Development Authority and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Earlier this summer, residents were told that June installations of reclosers would help prevent power outages caused by bird strikes or falling tree branches. But the most recent blackout may have been caused by an animal. SFPUC’s field teams are still investigating the situation to confirm this suspicion.

Larger power grid renovations are scheduled to be completed by January 2021, but residents want a solution to a decades old-problem now — especially because pre-existing problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“The government can’t force themselves to provide reliable electricity,” Sanders says. “What will it take?”

TIDA has not responded to a request for comment.

Grace Z. Li covers arts, culture and food for SF Weekly. You can reach her at gli@sfweekly.com or follow her on Twitter @gracezhali.

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Grace Z. Li

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