VIDEO: San Francisco pushes for landlords to bring their units up to earthquake code


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The City of San Francisco is pushing the landlords of roughly 3,500 apartment buildings to bring their units up to the latest seismic safety standards.

There are still over 1,000 building owners who seem to be ignoring a deadline that’s fast approaching.

The buildings the city wants to see fixed are the kinds that suffered the worst damage during the 1989 Loma Prieta Quake. Older wood frame buildings

Older wood-frame buildings, referred to as a soft story because they have few walls on the ground floor, like with garage or commercial space, and are more likely to collapse in a powerful shaker.

The city passed a law in 2013 that any soft story building built before 1978 with five or more units and three or more floors get seismically retrofitted.

It’s being rolled out in stages, and now, it’s time for buildings with five-to-15 units to get up to code.

George Mak and his team are working to secure a building on Haight Street, strengthening frames using shear walls and anchor bolts.

“It will be able to sustain a certain degree of where the building is swaying…,” Mak said. “It will lock it in place”

His client is one of the roughly 2,500 building owners who are tackling this task.

But there are still over 1,000 buildings with no earthquake retrofit plans in the pipeline, and the deadline to get permit applications into the Department of Building Inspection runs out next Friday.

After that, city inspectors will try shaming them into compliance by slapping these earthquake warning signs on their exteriors.

Landlords could then face fines, building liens, or end up hearing from the city attorney.

The city’s building department says they have seen a spike in last minute applications in the last two weeks. They are hoping the recent destruction in

They are hoping the recent destruction in Mexico will wake lagging landlords up to what’s at risk.

“It reminds us that earthquakes are very unpredictable, and they can be really devastating,” San Francisco Department of Building Inspection spokesman William Strawn said. “That’s why we have this program. We want people to take the steps that will help improve the chances of a building not collapsing. It will protect lives, and it will certainly protect property.”

The Department of Building Inspection is bracing for a possible surge in business next week, so they are bringing on extra staffing and extra engineers in case those building owners who have been procrastinating up until now get jolted into action.



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