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soft-story buildings

Potentially Earthquake-Unsafe Residential Buildings — a (Very Rough) List

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Jan 14 2013 - 1:51pm

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

San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection has kept a preliminary list of potentially dangerous soft-story buildings since 2009, but inspectors say it has not been verified by actual building inspections, and was never intended for public consumption. Some of the addresses the city generated might be wrong. The Public Press is publishing the list so that residents who might possibly be at risk in their homes can participate in the debate over how best to retrofit thousands of properties in coming years.

Earthquake Retrofit Delays Leave Thousands at Risk

Noah Arroyo and Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Jan 7 2013 - 6:38pm

It will take at least 7 years to secure older wood buildings dangerously perched above windows or garages

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

One in 14 San Franciscans lives in an old building with a first floor that city inspectors say could be vulnerable to collapse if not retrofitted soon to withstand a major earthquake.While officials have had a preliminary list of nearly 3,000 suspect properties for more than three years, they have not told landlords, leaving the estimated 58,000 residents who live there ignorant that their buildings could be unstable.

S.F.’s List of Quake-Vulnerable Homes Continues to Grow

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 23 2015 - 7:30am

The citys official list of verified earthquake-vulnerable apartment buildings has hit 5,000.

Tenants Say Earthquake Retrofit Law Could Circumvent Rent Control

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Mar 20 2013 - 4:04pm

A proposed San Francisco law designed to save rent-controlled housing stock from the next big earthquake could actually displace low-income tenants, say tenant rights advocates. Building owners could pass through the cost of the retrofits to tenants in the form of monthly rent increases. Tenants’ only recourse would be to successfully declare financial hardship.

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.

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