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Earthquakes

Mandatory Earthquake Retrofit Proposal Advances Quickly in San Francisco City Hall

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Feb 5 2013 - 5:38pm

San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu Tuesday unveiled legislation to make seismic retrofits mandatory for so-called soft-story buildings throughout the city. Chiu called the proposal to make retrofitting mandatory in stages by 2020 the “next major step to ensure that we are prepared for the next big one.” He said he expected a major quake, which could happen anytime, could be two to three times stronger than the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that destroyed 7,000 buildings statewide. (Listen to Public Press reporter Noah Arroyo on KQED Radio’s “Forum”)

San Francisco Would Post Signs Warning of Earthquake Risk on Buildings Whose Owners Fail to Retrofit

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Feb 5 2013 - 11:05am

A plan being unveiled Tuesday in San Francisco would require the city to inform the owners of thousands of potentially earthquake-unsafe buildings that they need to retrofit at their own cost or demonstrate why not. If they don’t comply, the city would post a scarlet-letter sign on the property: “This building is in violation of the requirements of the San Francisco Building Code regarding earthquake safety.” (Listen to Public Press reporter Noah Arroyo on KQED Radio’s “Forum”)

San Francisco Plan Would Earthquake-Proof Thousands of Soft-Story Buildings by 2020

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Feb 1 2013 - 4:41pm

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is planning to take up a proposal to force owners of soft-story buildings to retrofit them by 2020, said a city official in charge of earthquake safety. Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Chiu plan to sponsor the ordinance and other supervisors might co-sponsor it by Tuesday. The legislation would apply only to wood-frame buildings built before 1978, with at least three stories. Unlike previous proposals, the new law would come without direct financial aid from the city. Financing questions, one official said, were “a major reason for the delay.”

San Francisco’s Most Urgently Needed Retrofits

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Jan 22 2013 - 1:43pm

There are three types of construction in San Francisco that pose hazards to occupants during a major earthquake. Here is a composite look at the present state of efforts to correct the problem around the city.

No One Wants to Go First: S.F.'s Retrofit Timeline

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Jan 10 2013 - 12:08pm

This story appeared in the Winter 2012-2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

A plan to require seismic retrofits on as many as 3,000 “soft-story” buildings in San Francisco can’t be executed all at once, experts say, because there aren’t enough engineers and contractors who know how to do the work. So city officials are developing a system of triage: Deal with the most dangerous buildings with the most people in them first. 

S.F. to Appoint Earthquake Retrofit Czar to Push for Mandatory Program Next Year

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Oct 12 2012 - 3:20pm

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee next week plans to appoint an earthquake retrofit czar, whose job is to make sure seismic safety plans from last year don’t languish on the shelf until the next big temblor strikes. City officials hope the new manager will fast-track a proposal to require owners of thousands of buildings to retrofit, and he will be tasked with figuring out a way to assist owners who cannot pay for repairs.

Japan nuclear crisis calls future of atomic energy into question

News Partner, World Affairs Council — Aug 25 2011 - 6:17pm

World Affairs Council panelists say U.S. facing big demand for clean source of power

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, caused by the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami, has opened a dialogue about nuclear energy policy and safety of reactors in the U.S. 

California officials say radiation ‘plume’ from Japan won’t increase state’s levels above normal

Alison Hawkes, Way Out West — Mar 17 2011 - 5:58pm
California health and emergency officials said a “plume” of radiation coming from the Japanese nuclear crisis that’s expected to hit the West Coast as early as tomorrow will bring radiation levels to no higher than normal background levels.

City struggles to move beyond piecemeal approach to earthquake retrofitting

Rosemary Macaulay, SF Public Press — Dec 17 2010 - 3:19pm

Thousands of structures in city in need of seismic work

San Francisco’s piecemeal approach to seismic retrofitting took a big hit when voters rejected a $46 million bond to retrofit affordable housing and residential hotels. This was the third time in as many years that the city sought the ability to borrow money to fix structures that were most vulnerable to a major earthquake. Advocates say this measure’s passage could saved the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. But seismic safety experts argue it was only a fraction of what is needed to prevent widespread building collapses when the next big quake strikes. While this year’s bond measure, Proposition A, could have saved as many as 156 buildings, the city has identified at least another 2,700 similar structures that are not covered by any retrofit program.

Environmental groups concerned about Treasure Island traffic

Victoria Schlesinger, SF Public Press/Way Out West — Aug 16 2010 - 5:54pm

After a string of environmental groups and Treasure Island redevelopment critics requested more time to analyze the San Francisco project’s complex and lengthy draft environmental impact review last week, the Planning Commission granted them an additional two weeks. The public now has until Sept. 10 to submit written comments about the 2,000-plus-page report, first released in mid-July, which discusses environmental concerns ranging from transportation and greenhouse gas emissions to accommodating sea level rise and girding for earthquakes.

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