Anti-terror funds get beefed up in S.F.

The Bay Area is one of six urban areas at highest risk of a terrorist attack in the United States, according to the federal government, which announced Homeland Security grants for 2007 totaling $1.7 billion.

The Bay Area’s share of the anti-terrorism dollars for the coming fiscal year is $34.13 million, a 20 percent increase from the $28.3 million the region received in 2006. The grant is part of the federal government’s Urban Areas Security Initiative — which allocated nearly $749 million to 45 of the nation’s most-threatened, densest areas.

San Francisco icons such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Transamerica Pyramid — as well as the Bay Area’s transportation networks, three major airports, ports, refineries and banking industry — put the region at risk, said Laura Phillips, executive director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, in a statement sent out Wednesday, said he was pleased that the Department of Homeland Security recognized the Bay Area’s importance as a high-risk region with an increase in funding.

Although the Homeland Security grants are intended mostly to prevent and respond to terror attacks, the federal government allows the funding to be used to prepare for natural disasters as well, Phillips said.

“If you look at natural disasters, our threat in this area is an earthquake, potentially even a tsunami,” Phillips said. “And if a terrorist wanted to strike, we’re the perfect area.”

Nationwide, New York City once again received the largest allocation of UASI funds, $134 million, up from $124 million in 2006. Although the Los Angeles/Long Beach area received the second highest Urban Area grant, $72.5 million, it represented a 10 percent decrease from the previous year, prompting complaints from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

With money in hand, the challenge now for the region is to decide how to spend the federal dollars.

The Bay Area’s UASI application to the federal government was a $100 million wish list of requests consisting of projects to benefit the entire region, including: regional planning efforts; preparations against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats; mass care supplies, training and exercises; citizen preparedness programs; public information and warning systems; and critical infrastructure.

The application was created using an advisory group with representatives from the area’s 10 counties, as well as input from numerous workinggroups that focused on such areas as transportation security and emergency training.

In addition to its UASI grant, the Bay Area also received $14.5 million in funding to help create an interoperable communication system, including voice, data and video systems.

Big cities, big money

Total Urban Areas Security Initiative funding nationwide is $746.9 million.

New York City: $134.0M

L.A./Long Beach: $72.5M

Washington, D.C.: $61.6M

Chicago: $47.2M

Jersey City/Newark: $36.0M

Bay Area: $34.1M

Houston: $25.0M

– Source: U.S. Department of Homeland

beslinger@examiner.com


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