Mayor Newsom to Make Seismic Safety Mandatory
02/12/09 - Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has directed the Department of Building Inspection to craft specific legislation requiring mandatory upgrades to San Francisco’s soft-story wood frame buildings.
"Although there is no such thing as an earthquake-proof building, engineers agree that proper seismic retrofitting can give buildings a fighting chance against a sizeable earthquake," said Mayor Newsom. "Now we must act decisively to protect our homes and workplaces."
A soft-story building is one that typically has large openings on the ground floor such as multiple garage doors or large storefront windows. The buildings are found throughout San Francisco.
The plan for mandatory soft story upgrades coincides with a report about to be released by the Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety (CAPSS) that focuses on one type of soft-story wood-frame buildings in San Francisco and their location, evaluates a range of vulnerability factors, and will propose retrofit options and costs. CAPSS also is studying other types of potentially vulnerable buildings within the City, and will be generating additional analyses and recommendations over the next 18 months for policymakers’ consideration.
The report was ordered by the Mayor last July as a top priority. Its analysis and recommendations are expected to recommend both voluntary and mandatory programs to address seismic safety issues around such soft-story buildings.
In addition, Mayor Newsom is developing retrofit incentives for San Francisco building owners and a feasible financing program – such as the possible repurposing of existing unreinforced masonry building bond monies – to help facilitate these retrofits under what everyone recognizes are difficult market conditions.