Region shares fewer anti-terror dollars

Due to cuts in federal Homeland Security funding, the Bay Area’s shared allocation of anti-terrorism dollars for the coming fiscal year is just a bit more than the amount that San Francisco alone received in 2004.

Two years ago, San Francisco received $26.3 million in federal Homeland Security funding; for fiscal year 2006, an allocation of $28.3 million is expected to be shared among the nine-county Bay Area region. Last year, San Francisco received $18.6 million and the region received $33.8 million overall.

In the past, Department of Homeland Security grants were given to individual cities. This year, the department decided to require several urban areas — including the Bay Area — to submit regional disaster preparedness plans.

“The interdependence the regions have on one another is recognized in this process,” said Tracy Henke, assistant secretary for the DHS Office of Grants and Training. “If something was to happen in San Francisco they’d rely on the other areas.”

“We fared well compared to a number of other cities,” said Annemarie Conroy, director of The City’s Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security. Conroy noted that although there is $119 million less in the total funds for 2006, the Bay Area maintained its 4 percent portion of the available dollars. In all, 46 cities will share $710 million in the federal Urban Area Security Initiative funds intended mostly to prevent and respond to terror attacks.

New York City received the largest allocation, $124 million, down from $207 million last year.

Washington, D.C., and its surrounding capital region received $31.5 million less than its $77.5 million last year.

The challenge for the region now is to decide how to spend the federal dollars.

The Bay Area’s original proposal was a $333 million “wish-list” application approved by a board that consisted of one representative each from the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose and the counties of San Francisco, Alameda and Santa Clara.

Among the regionwide initiatives proposed in the application was a $116 million regional planning coordination center, a $107 million program to improve communications among agencies, and $26 million to strengthen detection and response capabilities in the event of a biological attack. Officials will now work on trimming the spending plan, since they’ve been given an allocation that is 84 percent less than requested, Conroy said.

In February, when the region’s application was submitted, Mayor Gavin Newsom said San Francisco deserved the “lion’s share” of the funding. And agencies such as BART, which protested its exclusion from the decision-making board, said they need a significant portion.

“We still have no place at the table and we’re a top-10 terrorism target in the state,” BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.

beslinger@examiner.com

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