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Crown Harbor Homeowner Association

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Here are some specific issues for Crown Harbor in the event of a disaster.


Unit Keys

  • Residents should ensure that at least one neighbor has a key (or entry code) to their units.

  • This speeds up the ability to check on occupants' well-being in the event of an emergency.

entrance gate

Earthquake Shed

  • The Association has a limited set of supplies stored in a shed. The shed is located behind the lattice fence at the intersection of Kings and Queens.

  • The supplies are typically one-of-a-kind items that could be used throughout the association. The set of supplies is not intended to be a substitute for residents having their own supplies.

    • utility wagon
    • 2 fire hoses and one fire hose nozzle
    • 2 shovels
    • jack with handle and 18 blocks of wood to raise jack
    • sledgehammer
    • long crowbar
    • 4 portable toilets with toilet deodorants
  • The team 3 members of each of the 4 neighborhoods have the combination to the shed and chest locks.

entrance gate

entrance gate box

Gate Release Document

entrance gate box open

Vehicle Entrance Gate

  • After a disaster, the Crown Harbor vehicle and pedestrian gates could be an issue. The main gate has a recently installed back up electrical system, so there should be a bit of limited use.

  • There is also a way to manually open the gates. The Gate Release Document outlines how to open the entrance/exit gate in the event of a power outage.

  • For those who may be having trouble with the gate, resident, Thomas Burns, knows how to operate the release and has volunteered to help in emergency situations.

entrance gate

entrance gate box

Pedestrian Entrance Gates

  • The pedestrian pathway gates would likely go to the closed lock mode and without electrical would stay there.

  • An advantage of a gated community is that entrance is controlled by residents in the event of a disaster.

  • The following residents have keys to the locks associated with the entrance gates:

    • Burny Matthews
    • Dave Eck
    • Tom Burns
gas off

Turning Off Gas Is Critical

  • Units are very susceptible to fire with since they are wood frame houses.

  • Unlike for water, there is no one main gas shutoff valve for all of Crown Harbor.

  • Fortunately, many units have automatic shut off valves that should trigger in the event of an earthquake. Owners of units without shutoff valves can get them installed by Ethan's Plumbing Service, 875 A Island Drive #358, (510) 390-4185.

  • For units without emergency gas shutoff valves can pool their service requests and perhaps get a discount from Andy Weber Plumbing, 2313 Encinal Avenue, (510) 523-0628.

  • Gas shut off needs to be done very early.


Be Prepared for Liquefaction

  • Crown Harbor is situated on a fill which can liquefy which greatly increases the risk of structural and utility line damage.

  • There is also the possibility, that with liquefaction, Crown Harbor could end up with house settling or some Bay water encroachment.



Sump Pumps at Sewage Lift Station

  • Crown Harbor sewer lines are below the main EBMUD line on Central. In the event of electrical failure, the sumps would fill and overflow onto Crown Drive. There is a main valve that controls the water flow for all of Crown Harbor.

  • In the event of an earthquake, the old irrigation lateral lines would very likely sustain damage. There is a secondary valve that would need to be shut to shut off the irrigation system. At some point, the main water line could be turned on with the irrigation line left off.

  • The circumstances regarding the sump pump and irrigation system mean water shut off has to be done very early. CERT Members would likely want the Crown Harbor main water shut off immediately.

control valves

Turning Off Water

  • The control valves are located behind the road sign for Crown Drive and Queens Road.

  • There are 2 blue handles. The one labeled #2 controls the main water flow. The other one controls the irrigation system.

  • In a disaster situation, both should be pulled up, perpendicular to the pipe, to shut off the flow.

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Portable Chemical Toilets

  • The water will be off to avoid flushing that cannot be handled by the pumping station due to lack of electricity.

  • Though the Association has 4 of these on hand, residents are encouraged to purchase portable toilet chemicals and toilet waste bags that are available in many stores or on the web at sites such as Amazon or eBay.

  • The bag can be fitted over an existing toilet that has been emptied of its water. One gallon of water is added to the bag along with the chemicals.

  • In addition, the earthquake shed for Crown Harbor has 2 portable toilet containers along with a supply of kitty litter.

sump breaker box

light breaker box

Turning the Electricity Back On

  • In the event of an emergency, the electricity will most likely be off.

  • When power is restored, the circuit breakers for the pump station may need to be reset.

  • When power is restored, the circuit breakers for the street and pathway lights may need to be reset.

  • The following residents have a key to the lock on the circuit breaker boxes:

    • Dave Eck
    • Scott Sheppard
    • Sean McDermott

NOAA Radio

  • NOAA Weather Radio is a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, broadcasting on seven VHF Band frequencies ranging from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. These frequencies are outside the normal AM or FM broadcast bands, and are therefore not found on the average home radio.

  • The broadcast schedule consists of recorded messages which are repeated every 3 to 5 minutes and are routinely revised to provide the latest and up-to-date information.

  • The California station is KHB49 (see map) which broadcasts from San Francisco.

ham radio

HAM Radio

  • Ron Barrett is a licensed HAM radio operator.

  • Ron's HAM radio has emergency power.

  • The antenna allows connections beyond line-of-sight range typical of UHF/VHF transmissions and allows Crown Harbor to send/receive emergency traffic with State and National emergency centers. The radio also has a web link that allows Crown Harbor to send/receive email messages even though Crown Harbor may be without electricity nor internet service. This includes Crown Harbor residents letting loved ones in other parts of the world know that they are OK even though the rest of the Bay Area may be under a blackout.

  • Ron is a member of the CERT Radio and Logistics team.

  • Radio antennas are forbidden by Section 3.4 of the CC&Rs. To allow Ron to have an antenna requires an amendment to the existing CC&Rs. The CERT Committee has therefore made such a request. Here is the proposed language:

    (j) Radio Antennas — Owners are prohibited from erecting, constructing, maintaining or placing any radio and/or electronic receiving and/or broadcasting service, including antennas, wiring or other means and/or any electrical, telephone or other wiring or similar items on the exterior of any Building or any part thereof. An exception to this rule may be granted to an owner by the board of directors for the installation of a FCC licensed Amateur Radio station for the purpose of providing the residents with communications in times of local disaster. Granting of this exception by the board requires prior review by both the CERT and Design Review committees of an application by the owner that details the nature and location of the antenna and evidence of a FCC license. The radio station antenna must be removed by the grantee of the exception upon sale of the unit housing the antenna or upon the grantee's inability or unwillingness to provide emergency communication to the community.

    The additional text appears in italics above.

    This amendment only becomes official if approved by a majority of the Owners by voting using physical paper ballots, just like the election of Board members each year.

  • Q: Ham radio transmitters have a nasty habit of interfering with TV and radio equipment in the near transmitting field. What will this do to our home systems?
    A: Ron has been operating his mobile system, often from the parking space next to his unit, for over 10 years with a transmitter that is running the same amount of power as the proposed station at a power level comparable to a 100-watt light bulb and hasn't received a single complaint. The proposed antenna and its placement will add no transmitted power gain over the mobile system, but simply allow much clearer reception needed for the data handling (messaging) capability of the new system. Today's commercial Amateur Radio equipment of this type is not only expensive but designed to operate in just this type of high density living environment. For over the last 30+ years, Amateur Radio equipment does not have a nasty history of interference with TVs, etc. Years ago, some manufacturers of electronic products were sold without proper radio frequency filters to prevent interference by transmitters of all kinds, i.e., police, fire, commercial radios, Amateur Radio, etc. The vast majority of today's products have the necessary filters incorporated in their units at the factory. In the very few cases involving older or poorly designed equipment, most can be cured with an easily installed very low cost external filter. Ron operates his radio equipment a matter of feet from his televisions, high-fi systems, etc. with absolutely no interference of any kind.

  • Q: I would like to know the extent of Ron's emergency power. It sounds as if he is taking on a responsibility which means in an emergency he would need many hours of power. Such an emergency would probably mean the island would be cut off for days including electricity.
    A: Ron has on order a Honda portable generator EM4000SX iAVR rated at 3.5KW (5KW surge) fully meeting California CARB environmental regulations. Based on 6.2 gallon capacity, it can provide full power for 10.1 hours for rated load and up to 16 hours at half load. Ron also has a siphon to draw from car gas tanks, so total time is a function of how much gas we collectively have — basically, weeks.

  • Q: An Owner suggested that the amendment include the provision "unless approved (unanimously) by the Board." Can this be added?
    A: Section 8.8, Quorum Requirements, of the ByLaws states: Three (3) Directors shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business for any and all purposes. Every act and decision done or made by a majority of the Directors present at a meeting duly held at which a quorum is established is the act of the Board. To make this one item different from the others would be in conflict with this section.

  • Q: Is anyone opposed?
    A: I'm sorry, but I can't support Ron's request to install a permanent antenna on his patio. There are a number of reasons, some technical and some community-oriented.

    I find Ron's response interesting. We, as neighbors, have never been informed and there's no way we could know he's been transmitting from the parking lot for 10 years. Consequently, if any of us experienced problems, we would have no idea of the cause or who or where to complain. Of course, he's had no complaints.

    Noting the quality of the new generation of ham radio equipment is nice, but has relatively no bearing on the issue. The interference caused in normal, commercial TV, and radio systems is a result of the intended signal transmitted from the ham radio system itself, not an unwanted by-product of the system. It's nothing he, as the transmitting entity, can avoid. The UHF and VHF bands he uses are very close to the UHF and VHF signals our TVs and Radios are designed to pick up. The ham signal finds it's way into the tuners of the home devices and causes the interference. It can enter from a number of sources like the shielding around your TV or radio, the cable and connectors, used or unused antenna connections, etc. The regulations set by the FCC on TV and radio manufacturers, to block or filter out such signals, are not stringent enough to protect the units from this kind of intentionally transmitted signal; especially in the near vicinity of the antenna. The only way to eliminate this interference is for each owner of the home units to install special shielding and filtering to protect their radios and TVs. How bad this interference could be or who or how many people it affects is unknown at this point and quite frankly, the FCC and the ham operators don't care as long as the transmitter is operated within the parameters of the license. This is like a "buyers beware" situation. If we permit it, and it causes problems, we're stuck because the licensing authority says he's not responsible.

    From the position of the HOA and a homeowner, why should we change the CC&Rs to benefit an individual who will enjoy the benefits of the variance on a daily basis? Some of us have moved to use "common property" for personal use in the past — moving fences, extending patios, installing air conditioners, etc. — and been shot down. How is this any different? Except in a specific, rare situation, this proposal benefits only one individual on a daily basis.

    Finally, from the position of a military communications and electronics engineer responsible for locating antennas to minimize interference and planning for emergency deployment of communications systems, I can confidently say mobile systems are considered the best option. A mobile unit is less likely to be damaged, can be moved to a more friendly, less dangerous environment and can actually be moved to a location where the propagation and reception is more beneficial. In an emergency situation, what can he offer our CERT team with a permanent system that he can not also provide with a mobile system? In fact, in an emergency situation, he could easily move his mobile system to the end of either Kings or Crown, next to the waters of the Bay and greatly improve his system performance.

    I'm sorry, but I see no significant benefit to either the CERT Team or community at large resulting from approval of a permanent installation. I cannot support the change to the CC&Rs.

    Response from Ron: I don't agree that the residents should be denied the benefits of this proposal because of a single resident's argument. It's unlikely that any proposed CC&Rs wording change on any subject would pass if it had to be unanimous I believe the proposed unanimous decision was by the board not all community members. In either case, It would be a recipe for gridlock.

    I'm glad to discuss the points raised by the homeowner:

    1. This would confer a special benefit to the person proposing the change

      This is obviously true, and I admit it, but what is the exchange? In exchange for allowing me to place a small antenna in my patio area and continue to enjoy my hobby by way of a better antenna, all the residents would benefit from a communications facility that could be vital in times of a major earthquake or other emergency. Not only that, the considerable cost of the facility ($7500) will be borne solely by me.

    2. Such a capability would be best done in a vehicle, rather than in a residence

      Sounds compelling, but the nature of the service being offered is not simply a typical voice-only capability. In fact, its major use in an emergency would be to offer digital (written messages) communications interfacing to the internet as well. The latter capability requires more equipment and workspace than can be practically accommodated in a vehicle (computer, data modem, associated power supplies, etc). Also, a typical vertical mobile antenna is remarkably inefficient as compared with the proposed patio antenna, and that would limit the long-distance coverage needed for out of area digital connection to the internet on behalf of our residents.

    3. The frequencies this antenna covers broadcasts in the VHF/UHF range of frequencies and therefore present an increased susceptibility for interference to TVs, Hi-fi equipment, etc.

      As was already stated in the 3rd bulleted item in this "Ham Radio" blog, the antenna is not for use in the VHF/UHF frequency bands. In fact, the VHF/UHF frequencies are totally inappropriate for anything but line-of-sight applications. The proposed use of the patio antenna is in an entirely different range of frequencies (7.0 — 21.3 MHz) that do not present, in today's world, an inherent susceptibility of interference.

    4. Ron's argument that he hasn't received complaints from the operation of his mobile station doesn't prove there may not have been some.

      You got me! It is true, but I agree that while it is a factual statement, it is logically fallacious, as are all attempts, no matter how well intentioned, to prove a negative. Moreover, I am aware that even if homeowners experienced interference they would have no idea that my ham operation could be the cause.

    Though it hasn't been suggested in the dialog so far, the HOA board would not be powerless to revoke its grant under this CC&Rs, if the proposed amendment included wording granting it authority to do so. The board could revoke approval if it were found that the use of the equipment resulted in proven interference to equipment owned by homeowners that could not be fixed at Ron's expense.

    See Amateurs Step In for Spate of Epic Disasters for a real-life example of the assistance that is possible and its benefits.

    Response from the Board President: The technical objection raised against the plan was made by a single community member who appears to be quite knowledgeable but claims that ham radio operating frequencies interfere with UHF and VHF signals. Research I have done suggests that interference of that type can be caused by small short range ham radio devices which use UHF, but it does not appear to be true for Ron's system which uses HF frequencies. Finally, it is not clear that a mobile unit (Ron's car) is appropriate or practical for the digital communications we would have available with the system Ron has proposed installing. While Ron has openly admitted that he would benefit from the more powerful system he has proposed (why else would he pay for it?), that does not detract from the benefit to the community he would provide. I therefore believe we should consider all sides and weigh the potential risk/benefit before making a final decision.

    Original Inquirer's Reply: I believe the voters should have both pros and cons for each argument. They deserve to know what they're voting for or into. It's obvious nobody on the Design Review Committee knew the possible interferences (how could they?) and Any typical Ham Operator isn't going to bring it up, so I had to. I've dealt with this Ham Radio interference problem more than once in my career, and I'm not very sympathetic to their cause. There are Ham frequencies in all of the communications bands. VHF and UHF are usually used for satellites. Now knowing Ron's talking HF transmissions, I wish I could say I'm more comfortable. I'm not. HF can be equally as disruptive, and data is more likely to cause problems than voice transmissions because of the power cycle. Due to the lower frequencies, the interfering signals typically enter through the power lines and power systems. Think of the power cables in your wall as one big antenna. Crown Harbor is not in a rural area and won't be that disconnected. In the HF range, moving to the water's edge would be even more beneficial, (maybe 1000 miles vs 100) but is probably not necessary. Just for the record, I could make a case that the suggested wording of the revision, where it says something to the affect of "for the purpose of communicating in emergency situations," would only allow Ron to transmit in a declared emergency — not whenever he feels like it. I don't think that was the intent or what he's looking for, but it kind of reads that way.

  • Q: I have noticed that my TV signal goes off a few times each week. Might this be due to the ham radio interference by one of our residences on Kings Road?

    A: That is possible. The issue has been raised by at least one other community member. When the issue is put to a vote by the community, I trust that the Board will present both pros and cons of having the HAM radio aid our community in times of need.


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

  • An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) provides a way to inspect and document any damage that Crown Harbor may sustain in a disaster as part of the CERT mission.

  • Crown Harbor resident, Ron Barrett, owns a Phantom 4 UAV.

  • UAV operation requires a license. Ron holds an FAA REMOTE PILOT license #3908712.

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