City Government, Community

Seismic screenings now required for “soft-story” residential buildings

July 9, 2019

Black, white, grey and blue line drawing of a soft story building with cars in the parking garage under the building.

The City Council gave final approval last week to legislation requiring owners of multi-unit, “soft-story” residential buildings to have the structures screened for seismic vulnerability and report the findings to the City.

The mandatory seismic screening requirement applies to wood-frame buildings with two or more stories and three or more dwelling units that were constructed prior to 1979, and that have a basement or a lower story that is substantially more vulnerable to earthquake damage than the story above.

The screenings must be conducted by an architect, civil engineer, or structural engineer with the findings due to the City by Oct. 30, 2020, for buildings with five or more units, and by April 30, 2021, for buildings with fewer than five units. The legislation also establishes voluntary seismic retrofit standards for soft story buildings.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) predicts that there is a 72 percent probability of a major earthquake in the Bay Area by the year 2035. Of the 32 faults included in the analysis, the Hayward fault is the most likely to rupture and cause a damaging earthquake.

For more information on the new ordinance and to obtain a copy of the new seismic screening form for potential soft story buildings, contact the Hayward Building Division on the first floor of City Hall, 777 B Street, by calling (510) 583-4140, or by visiting the division’s website.