Soft Story Resources (Policy)

Soft Story Resources (Policy)

Some of the structures most susceptible to shaking damage are soft-story apartments and condominiums. Built prior to recent codes, soft-story residential buildings are those that have open parking or commercial space on the first floor and housing on higher floors. In an earthquake, ground shaking causes such structures to sway and sometimes to collapse.

A handful of Bay Area cities have taken a range of actions to address the soft-story challenge. The links below highlight city inventories, ordinances, and program resources for soft-story structures. This list is not an exhaustive list of soft-story actions, but provides a good summary of the known significant actions in the region.

Soft Story Retrofit Program Development

Soft Story Model Ordinance and Handbook

Jurisdiction-Specific Elements  

City and County of San Francisco

Adopted Soft Story Ordinance (City and County of San Francisco, 2013)

Soft Story Program Inventory and Status (City and County of San Francisco, 2020)

City of Oakland

Adopted Soft Story Ordinance (City of Oakland, 2019)

Soft-Story Improvement Plan for the City of Oakland – Building Screening Phase (ABAG, 2014)

Soft-Story Retrofit Informational Memo (City of Oakland, 2014)

City of Berkeley

Soft Story Program Website (City of Berkeley, 2020)

Soft Story Ordinance Mandatory Amendment (City of Berkeley, 2013)

Soft Story Program Inventory (City of Berkeley, 2020)

County of Santa Clara

Informational Memo on Santa Clara County Inventory (City of Mountain View, 2004)

City of Alameda

Soft Story Voluntary Ordinance (City of Alameda, 2009)

Potential Soft Story Buildings Inventory (City of Alameda, 2019)

City of Fremont

Adopted Soft Story Ordinance (2007)

City of Richmond

Known actions have been taken, but no knowledge of an ordinance has passed

City of Albany

Known actions have been taken, but no knowledge of an ordinance has passed

City of Palo Alto

Seismic Risk Assessment Study Results (City of Palo Alto, 2017)

City of Mountain View

Soft Story Study Report (City of Mountain View, 2018)

Inventory of Potential Soft Story Building Properties (City of Mountain View, 2018)

City of Hayward

Mandatory Soft Story Screening Ordinance (City of Hayward, 2019)

Inventory of Properties Subject to the Mandatory Soft Story Screening Program (City of Hayward, 2019)

Additional Soft Story Guides/Resources

The Apartment Owners Guide to Earthquake Safety (City of San Jose, 1998)

Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Multi-Unit Wood-Frame Buildings with Weak First Stories (FEMA, 2012)

AB 304 Legislation Enabling Cities and Counties to Address Soft-Story Buildings in their Communities (Hancock, 2005)