Interviewed by KPIX 5 after his department posted a second round of warnings on dozens of buildings about town, Director of the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection Tom Hui reveals that just 40 percent of soft story buildings in San Francisco are in compliance with seismic safety standards. Well then.
Soft story housing, such as that with garage space or other space on the ground floor and housing above, is all over town (read more about it on the Department's website.) It's particularly prevalent in the Marina District, an area built on landfill prone to liquefaction in the event of a quake, for example.
"San Franciscans live in one of the world’s most at-risk seismic zones," the Department of Building Inspection writes on its website, "placing a special responsibility upon those who live here, along with key local, state and Federal agencies, to take steps and prepare themselves, and their families, for the next Big One." Created in 2013, the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program is "a multi-year community-based effort led by the Earthquake Safety Implementation Program" enforced by the Department of Building Inspection.
For the second time, the Department has been reminding residents and building owners of that responsibility, posting signs to soft story buildings presumably with the hope that residents will go bug their landlords about them. The next round of signs will be posted in the fall of 2017 — barring an earthquake that topples noncompliant buildings between now and that future date. KPIX 5 characterizes the push, similar to one in 2013, as a "shame campaign," drawing comparisons to the perennial high school lit classic "The Scarlet Letter:" Those who did their homework back then may recall that, in the transcendental text, the badge of shame becomes one of honor — let's hope it doesn't work like that in this case. Take a look above and see how your building might stand (get it? sorry I'm sorry).