Wednesday, July 9, 2008

San Francisco Mayor Orders Increase in Retrofits

In an order to improve building safety, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on Monday said he is directing staff to step up its efforts to identify and help retrofit so-called "soft-story" buildings that could fall when the next significant earthquake hits the region.

The move, which Newsome indicated will cost less than $6,000 for most soft-story retrofits, will expedite development of retrofit guidelines for soft-story, wood-frame buildings and the processing and review of permits for seismic retrofit upgrades of these buildings.

"Although there is no such thing as an earthquake-proof building, engineers agree that proper seismic retrofitting can give buildings a fighting chance against a sizeable earthquake," Newsom said in a statement. "We must take the same measures to insure the safety of our homes and workplaces as we do our families and selves."

Under Monday's directive, city staff will: Expedite completion of the soft-story component of the Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety (CAPSS) initiative, including the development of retrofit guidelines for soft-story, wood-frame buildings; Expedite immediately and waive fees for projects that include seismic strengthening and related Planning Department reviews of soft-story buildings; Increase outreach and awareness on the importance of seismic strengthening; Create a soft-story, wood-frame exercise scenario in the October 2008 citywide emergency drill.

The supporting legislation will require City departments that issue building and renovation permits to speed up the review and permitting process for projects where the scope of work includes voluntary seismic retrofit upgrades to soft-story buildings.

The legislation also seeks the waiver of those fees associated with the review and permitting of such work.

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