Since the 1991 Oakland Hills fire, which destroyed more than 3,000 homes, we have experienced many big fires in California. But we have not applied any preventative lessons from experience. Even the 2003 Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations were ignored. Again, we are experiencing firestorms in Southern California.
The redeveloped Oakland Hills homes are just as vulnerable as they were before the 1991 fire. The well-developed areas of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville and San Ramon are also vulnerable.
I urge that State and Federal Laws be adopted regarding the following:
1. All buildings' exteriors, including homes, be constructed with fireproof material by using bricks, stones, stucco, steel and fireproof roof-tiles.
2. Heat/smoke sensitive automatic sprinkler systems be installed on the ceilings and the rooftops with an on/off switch outside the house/building.
3. Homes be surrounded only with evergreen shrubbery, not tall trees. The height of the trees be limited to the distance from the nearest building.
4. Only very low-density developments be allowed in the wind tunnel and other vulnerable areas, like hilly areas where, under emergency, easy movement is denied to the fire fighting equipment and the escaping residents.
5. During the dry or windy season or days, no fire burning be allowed in the picnic areas or open areas.
6. State-of-the-art techniques be implemented to prevent fire from short-circuited or downed power lines.
To stay in business, insurance companies and fire districts must insist on preventative measures.
Single payer would be better
With the passing of Ted Kennedy, one of our greatest champions of health and social justice, we must work even harder to see to it that civilized, quality healthcare becomes a reality for all Americans. Let us all work to receive the same quality healthcare that our senators and congressmen receive.
Contrary to what you've been told, single payer healthcare is not only less expensive, but people of all ages get better healthcare throughout their lives. No longer would you be tied to a job because of health benefits. Now that's freedom!
There will be a showing of the film, "Sick Around the World," which demystifies single payer, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19, at the IBEW Hall, 6250 Village Parkway in Dublin. Sue Bergman from Healthcare For All (California's single payer movement) will speak after the film. Come and see for yourself how wonderful America would be if we stopped listening to the insurance companies.
We all deserve healthcare
America is about choices. Everyone deserves access to high quality and affordable healthcare. The current healthcare reform legislation provides choices for everyone. If you like your current plan and doctor, you will be able to keep it. However, reform is not about having health insurance; it is about having access to quality healthcare. For Americans without insurance, this is currently not an option. Every American citizen deserves healthcare. We need the public option to provide this basic right to citizens. The status quo is un-American and cannot be sustained.
I recently participated in a town hall on the phone with U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney and filled-out a survey in June on his Web site. I thank McNerney for reaching out to hear our ideas and supporting healthcare reform.