Don't be fooled by the precious moniker— "soft-story" buildings, those whose first floors include glass storefronts or garages, are the biggest potential death traps in San Francisco. In 2000, the Department of Building Inspection began a rather morbid study of buildings types in an attempt to estimate the number of deaths that would occur in the city should a major earthquake hit nearby. Though the study was shelved long before it was finished—viva bureaucracy!— one thing did become abundantly clear: in a serious quake, so-called soft-story buildings would yield the majority of casualties. Despite that incomplete, yet sufficiently macabre analysis, San Francisco doesn't sponsor a seismic retrofitting program for its buildings— in fact, the mayor recently relocated funds for brick building retrofits to the new solar panel subsidy program. Although Gav has placed the retrofitting burden with home owners the policy amounts to little more than a municipal guilt trip. San Francisco has more of these buildings than any other city in the Bay Area, yet almost nothing has been done to ensure their survival should an earthquake hit close to home. Reminiscing about the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, one structural engineer told the Chron, "In the Marina, (the buildings) rolled over and killed cars. If they roll over in other neighborhoods, which they will, they'll kill a lot of people." A resounding endorsement if ever there was one.
· S.F. leaders ignore weak buildings' quake risk [SF Gate]
· Newsom: SF Homeowners Accountable for Retrofits [Curbed SF]
[Image via Earthquake Safety]