City moves to fire subcontractor in Haight Street construction fiasco

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- A series of five gas leaks underneath Haight Street over the past five months has business owners and residents crying "enough is enough" as city officials try to remove the subcontractor it says is responsible.

"The fact that this company under bid by $1 million in comparison to other subcontractors that bid on the project makes me nervous," said San Francisco Supervisor London Breed.

The owner of the restaurant 1428 Haight says the last leak happened during the middle of lunchtime. The restaurant filled with the smell of gas.

"I had frantic employees calling relatives because the smell of gas was so strong," said restaurant owner Deanne Sweiden. "Nobody knows what's going to happen. Are we going to blow up? Get it under control? It was very scary."

Business owners, residents and city leaders went public with their concerns over a project meant to beautify Haight Street. But underground repairs have been a near disaster.

Supervisor Breed is calling for hearings at city hall.

"The bigger issue is, are people safe? What is going on? What is being done?" she asked.

The city blames the subcontractor on the multi-million dollar project, a San Francisco company called Synergy Project Management.

Synergy told KTVU by phone that PG&E's maps detailing the underground gas pipes are inaccurate, some off by as much as six feet. They also say that some underground pipes were improperly installed.

PG&E maintains its maps are accurate and blames synergy for using heavy construction equipment instead of hand tools when they dug up the street.

The project has been shut down temporarily.

The city wants to fire Synergy from the $7.5 million project, but it isn't that easy.

"There are processes we need to follow and we are following those processes," said Mohammed Nuru, director of the city's Public Works Department.

"First time, ok it's a mistake. Second time. But 3rd, 4th and 5th? That's a little overboard," said Sweiden.

The city says it plans to hold an administrative hearing to have the subcontractor removed, but it seems likely the whole issue could be resolved in court.