San Francisco Passes Major Earthquake Retrofit Measure

West
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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Soft story building damaged after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. (Courtesy California Watch)

Soft story building damaged after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. (Courtesy California Watch)

A big one hasn’t hit California for a little while, which means it’s the perfect time to enact more stringent retrofit legislation. Just in case, you know… Near the end of last month San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed into law the city’s new mandatory soft-story retrofit program, which calls for retrofits to buildings with large openings for storefronts or garages. There are quite a few in the city: 2,800, home to about 58,000 people and 2,000 businesses, according to the Mayor’s office.

A lot more severe: aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. (Courtesy SMU Central University Libraries)

A lot more severe: aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. (Courtesy SMU Central University Libraries)

The city estimates that between 43 and 85 percent of these buildings would be unsafe after a 7.2 earthquake in the area. The law requires that such buildings be evaluated for possible upgrades, which would be phased in over several years. The scary news: according to San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) about a quarter of the city’s overall housing stock will provide adequate shelter after a major earthquake. Hopefully this measure will improve those statistics.

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