GBishop - I get CBS, ABC, WB, KQED, KRON, FOX, plus several other alternate language channels from Sutro. The "signal strength" (from the HDTV receiver, not a real meter) is 100 on all of these channels. I have a clear shot to Sutro and can see it from my roof, with the naked eye. Probably 20 miles line of site.
My 2nd antenna, on the same mast, is a cut Ch 12 and is pointed to San Jose for NBC. This way, no rotor is necessary. Last thing I want is a rotor to contend with. So - I give up a few Fremont/SJ channels like KICU, etc. I have a big hill in my way to the South but after some recent experimenting, I do get NBC ok.
Not so certain about the absolute direction requirements, especially from your close proximity. Using a real signal strength meter may tell you something. However, I bet the signal is so strong where you are, you can probably get it with a coat hanger :D
I get most of the Sutro stations with just the RG6, not even hooked up to the antenna.
The dropouts may have been associated with the original broadcast, not the relay from KPIX. Jusy guessing though.