Soft-story structures, popular on the West Coast, are typically multi-story residential buildings built above a ground-level garage, tuck-under parking garage or a storefront. Their mixed use design often means wider openings and fewer partition walls on the first story than on the upper stories, leaving soft-story buildings structurally vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake. During the 1971 San Fernando, 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, soft-story buildings sustained major damage or collapsed entirely.
For years, cities on the West Coast have recommended soft-story retrofits for thousands of residential structures to increase building resiliency. Cities such as San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles have already passed laws that require a mandatory retrofit for certain soft-story residential buildings, and many other cities are following suit.
The soft-story retrofitting process may seem complicated, but we have provided information for each step along the way. Whether you are a building owner, engineer, architect, contractor or inspector, we have useful information to help you navigate your soft-story retrofit from the beginning stage of receiving a mandate letter to the latter stage of implementing a soft-story retrofit solution.
With mandates and ordinances passed in a number of West Coast cities, soft-story retrofit headlines are more frequently seen in the news. Below are select articles on the topic that may be of interest.
Around half of San Francisco residential building owners required to comply with a mandated seismic retrofit program have yet to apply — and face significant fines and penalties if they don't do so by Sept. 15, city representatives told the Business Times on Wednesday. Read full article.