Mandatory Seismic Retrofits

Get a complimentary estimate

A number of Bay Area cities have implemented requirements for building owners to undertake seismic retrofits if their buildings fall into certain categories or were built prior to a certain calendar year.

Connor Daly Construction is very familiar with the requirements of the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Ordinances, for both residential and commercial structures. If your building needs to be brought into compliance with this ordinance, contact us today!

Several Bay Area cities have implemented mandatory seismic retrofit ordinances. 

Be sure to click on the plus sign to learn more about each city’s mandate.

City and County of San Francisco

According to the City and County of San Francisco’s Earthquake Safety Implementation Program (ESIP), the specific requirements for building owners are listed on their site and updated as needed. In 2013, then Mayor Ed Lee signed into law the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Ordinance.

On September 15, of that year, the City sent notices to the owners of all buildings “defined as wood-frame structures, containing five or more residential units, having two or more stories over a soft or weak story, and permitted for construction prior to January 1, 1978.”

The ESIP site states that,All property owners were, and still are, required to complete a screening form if noticed, regardless of their building’s configuration or previous retrofit status. Screening forms are required to be completed by a licensed design professional.” This program remains active.

The City of Oakland

The City of Oakland’s Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit program became effective January 22, 2019, with ordinance 13516. This municipal ordinance requires residential property owners to strengthen their buildings through a seismic retrofit if their home was built before 1991 and has a soft story. 

Oakland was hit hard during the Loma Prieta earthquake, along the Hayward fault.  Soft-story structures are those with garages or more open spaces underneath, typically of wood frame construction with columns for support, collapsed.

This ordinance is targeted at soft-story buildings with two or more stories, and five or more units. In 2009, Oakland passed an ordinance mandating owners of specific residential buildings to give the city information that described or showed in photographs and floor plans, the ground-floor structural support of their buildings. No retrofit was required at that time. That changed with ordinance 13516.


The City of Berkeley

The City of Berkeley has implemented municipal code 19.38, which makes clear that owners of buildings constructed of unreinforced masonry are required to retrofit their property. According to their website, only a handful still need to be retrofitted, of the 587 originally identified.

According to the City of Berkeley’s site, if you own an unreinforced masonry or soft story building with 5 or more units in the city, you are required to retrofit your property to make it safer in case of an earthquake.

Unreinforced masonry buildings are often brick buildings, constructed prior to modern design reforms and earthquake retrofit enhancements.

Funding is available through some municipalities and the State of California to help buidling owners defray the cost of retrofits.

Contact Us


Mon to Fri: 8:00 – 5:00



Connor Daly Construction