Hayward passes ordinance to identify ‘soft story’ buildings more vulnerable in quake

Bay Area

HAYWARD (KRON) — The earthquake in the Ridgecrest area, serves as a reminder that a major quake could happen at anytime.

In the Bay Area, hundreds of buildings in Hayward alone are considered vulnerable to a major earthquake.

Experts say there is 70-percent chance of the “big one” happening here 

An apartment complex is considered a soft story building because it is built without a stable ground level.

The city council estimates there are 930 buildings with three units or more like this built before 1979 in the city.

They are most at risk to collapse in an earthquake

“We are sitting on the Hayward fault and the more responsibility and awareness we have of that in a proactive not panicked way the better we can protect our residents,” said city building official Gary Nordahl.

A new ordinance just passed, wants to know exactly how many soft-story buildings they are and if they are safe.

Now building owners must fill out forms to tell the city details on its condition.

Nordahl says the form is pretty simple.

“We don’t feel this screening process is going to put any undue financial burden on owners of multifamily buildings,” he said.

The city is working on plans to help owners off-set costs if retrofitting is needed, but without knowing exactly how many buildings there are, it is hard to come up with a financial plan.

The screening forms will go out in late October.

Depending on the size of the building, property owners have 12 to 18 months to complete it.

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