Newsom pushes for seismic upgrades of certain city buildings

The next big earthquake in the Bay Area could damage or level so-called soft-story buildings in San Francisco, but Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to prevent that.

Owners of soft-story buildings in The City that could crumble during earthquakes would have their permits expedited and the Plan Review fees fees waived if they voluntarily make seismic upgrades, under legislation introduced by Newsom to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

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 legislation is part of Newsom recent effort to have property owners prepare their structures for the next big quake. Newsom has said he wants to mandate seismic upgrades, but this legislation provides incentives for property owners.

Last year, a report by the Board of Supervisors’ budget concluded that waiving the fees would cost The City a little more than $200,000, and said the legislation was “not likely to generate a significant number of new seismic-retrofit projects.”

The most recent legislation would require the Department of Building Inspection to submit annual reports detailing “the number of permittees who have taken advantage of the program, the number of retrofits completed, and the permittees' costs for the retrofits.”

The legislation comes less than a month before the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Memories of that destructive event could possibly reignite urgency to get structures fitted for the next big shaker.

The legislation requires approval by the full Board of Supervisors.

 

This blog has been corrected to reflect that Plan Review fees would be waived, rather than all permitting fees, under the voluntary seismic upgrades legislation proposed.

 

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