New law on earthquake retrofits closer 

A task force has almost completed putting together an ordinance that would mandate earthquake retrofitting of soft-story buildings in San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom said Friday at an Earthquake Engineering Research Institute meeting.

The city has about 4,400 such structures, which are highly vulnerable during an earthquake because they have wood frames and weak ground floors that are usually used as garages or retail space. The mandate would force building owners to complete the seismic upgrades but would also set aside bond money to help building owners finance the retrofits, Newsom said.

It would need to be approved by the Board of Supervisors and the voters and is expected to be on the November ballot.

The annual Earthquake Engineering Research Institute meeting ran through Saturday at the Parc 55 Hotel.

The Department of Building Safety estimated that if a 7.3-magnitude earthquake were to hit the San Andreas fault, up to 850 soft-story buildings would collapse and up to 2,400 would be uninhabitable for months. Retrofitting all the buildings would cost about $260 million and prevent about $1.5 billion worth of damage if a major earthquake hit, the department said.

- Bay City News

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