Seismic Safety


Seismic Retrofitting

Given Oakland's location along the Hayward Fault, seismic strengthening of residences—known as seismic retrofitting—can not only save lives, but also housing stock, better enabling Oakland to withstand the short- and long-term effects of a major disaster.

To encourage homeowners to complete these life- and property-saving retrofits, the City launched the New Homeowner Voluntary Seismic Strengthening Incentive Program. This program allows new owners of older homes who desire to retrofit for seismic safety to pay a $250 flat retrofit permit fee provided the retrofit plan meets the current seismic strengthening standards.

There are also programs with limited funds for grants and loans.

  • Single Family Seismic Retrofits
  • Soft Story Retrofit Legislation

Soft Story Buildings

A soft-story building is a structure constructed before 1991 which has large ground-floor openings (parking garage, store-front windows) with slender columns supporting the upper stories. Soft-story buildings are particularly likely to lean or collapse in an earthquake.

A 2009 ordinance (12966 CMS) mandated that owners of certain residential buildings provide simple and low-cost information to the City about their buildings' ground-floor structural supports (dimensions, materials, photographs, floor plan). The 2009 ordinance does not require any type of structural retrofit.

Approximately 90 percent of building owners have responded with screening forms providing a structural assessment of their buildings. At this time the City is not accepting screening forms for the remaining 10 percent of buildings.