Media Release
Media Release
Press Contact: Wendy Cosin, Deputy Planning Director, (510) 981-7402

IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY BY REQUIRING RETROFIT OF SOFT STORY BUILDINGS
Public meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 25, 2013, 7 p.m., North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Avenue

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, July 03, 2013) - The community is invited to a public meeting on July 25, 2013, 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Avenue, to introduce proposed regulations that will protect residents and make Berkeley a more disaster-resistant city.  Because certain types of buildings are more vulnerable than others to earthquake damage, the City has specific requirements for unreinforced masonry (URM) and “soft story” buildings. The first phase of the soft story program required owners to prepare a report that analyzed the structural ability of the building to resist earthquake impacts and that described the work needed to remedy identified weaknesses. There are currently 154 buildings on the soft story inventory prepared by the City in 2005; 104 buildings on the original inventory were retrofitted.  

The second phase of the City’s soft story program is underway with the release of a draft ordinance that requires seismic retrofit of residential buildings which are constructed with soft, weak, or open front conditions.Retrofit is proposed to be required for buildings with five or more units.  

A soft story building can generally be described as a wood-frame building with more than one story that typically has extensive ground story openings, garage doors, or open-air spaces such as parking with little or no enclosing solid wall. These buildings have the potential for sustaining serious damage, including collapse, in the event of strong earthquakes. The proposed ordinance requires owners to submit a building permit application to retrofit the building within three years and to complete retrofit within an additional two years.   

Tenants and property owners are being notified of the July 25th meeting.  After this initial public meeting, staff will take the proposed ordinance to interested Boards and Commissions for their comments before presenting it to the City Council toward the end of the calendar year. More information, including the draft ordinance and Frequently Asked Questions, is available at the following link: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Planning_and_Development/Building_and_Safety/Soft_Story_Program.aspx

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