Almost 500 Property Owners Miss Seismic Retrofit Deadline

The deadline simply required building owners to file a piece of paper, but even that appears to be a struggle.

A sample of buildings determined to to need seismic retrofit work (Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection)

Nearly 500 property owners missed the basic first step of applying for permits within the Friday deadline to keep their buildings up to earthquake safety code, Bay City News reports.

San Francisco has 3,464 buildings required to get permits to start seismic retrofitting work and 484 are still out of compliance, Department of Building Inspection spokesperson Bill Strawn said today. This is for the minimum earthquake safety improvements required by city law.

These “soft story” buildings — ones with an open space like retail or a garage on the ground floor — without such permits will be slapped with an official violation notice and warning that the building doesn’t meet basic seismic safety standards. Owners have about 30 days to realize there are consequences to procrastination, respond and be considered compliant before going to a code enforcement hearing.

Worst case scenario — short of an actual earthquake hitting and putting lives at risk — owners may be prevented from leasing or selling the property or using it as collateral for a loan. The city attorney’s office may even take legal action against them.

“I would say most of them were just waiting until the last minute,” Strawn told Bay City News. “Many of them also said they found that when they did try to get a professional engineer or architect to create a plan that many of those professionals are very busy right now.”

This is one phase of the city’s efforts to retrofit soft story buildings as well as residential buildings with five to 15 units. The city has another deadline on Sept. 15, 2018 for about 900 commercial and soft story buildings in liquefication zones.

Buildings owners have the option, through a city financing program, to apply the retrofit costs to their property bill and spread it over a 20-year period.

Go to the Department of Building Inspection website to check if your building is on the list or to learn more about seismic retrofitting.

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