Press Release: Neighbors and Students to Participate in Seismic Compliance Day of Action in Berkeley
Recent seismic activity in the East Bay has been the latest series of events to highlight the importance of retrofitting Berkeley's apartment buildings. Unfortunately, 86 of the 269 apartment buildings surveyed in March 2011 are not even in compliance with the first, basic step (Phase I) of Berkeley’s Soft-Story Ordinance (passed in 2005), which requires landlords of soft-story buildings to notify their tenants of the buildings’ inherent seismic instability and to commission an engineering study. Soft-story buildings refer to construction that has a garage, commercial space, or other space in an area where a solid supporting wall would otherwise be built.
More than 75% of the buildings surveyed earlier in 2011 are not seismically retrofitted, and would be susceptible to partial or total collapse in a Richter magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake, such as one that is predicted to happen over the next 30 years according to a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey study. Efforts to mandate seismic retrofitting of soft-story residential or mixed-use properties by the City of Berkeley (Phase II) and to enforce the existing Phase I have been stymied over a lack of funding, staffing, and prioritization.
This Saturday, a coalition of concerned neighbors and tenants takes matters into their own hands by informing tenants of soft-story buildings of the fact that their landlord is not yet in compliance with Berkeley’s Soft-Story Ordinance, and of the tenants’ rights under the municipal code. In addition, tips about points of contact in the City and disaster preparedness suggestions will be provided.
A press conference featuring elected officials and concerned community members will take place on the Steps of Sproul at noon on Saturday, December 3. Immediately following the conference, these community members will walk to buildings in the vicinity of the UC Berkeley campus to inform their tenants of the high stakes.