Friday 3rd of April 2020 10:50:13 AM GMT

Mandatory Seismic Retrofit For Oakland Residential Buildings At City Council

(Last Updated On: December 29, 2018)

Dan Kalb, Oakland’s District One Councilmember, along with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, have drafted a proposed ordinance called “Mandatory Seismic Retrofit For Soft Story Residential Buildings.”

Right now, the idea is to come before the Community & Economic Development Committee, today at 1:30 PM. But, if it reaches and is passed by the full Oakland City Council, the ordinance with the current agenda item of 5 18-1062 would, according to the staff report:

1) Within one year, document that the building is exempt from the seismic retrofit program;


2) Within four to six years, depending upon the type of building, perform a mandatory structural evaluation, obtain retrofit permit(s), and complete retrofit work per specified engineering criteria.

The staff report explains the following:

The proposal is designed to limit potential impacts to building owners as follows:

1. Preventative seismic retrofits will likely cost owners less than repair or rebuild work after a major earthquake;
2. Some financial assistance is available for owners doing seismic retrofit work; and
3. Zoning incentives apply, such as waived parking, setback and height regulations, and one or two additional dwelling units are permitted depending upon the size of the building.
The proposal is designed to reduce potential impacts to tenants as follows:
A. Preventative seismic retrofits will prevent occupant injury and loss of life and will reduce residential displacement in the event of a major earthquake;
B. Tenants that need to be temporarily relocated during seismic retrofit work are entitled to relocation payments by the owner under the City’s Code Compliance Relocation Program to cover the cost of temporary housing elsewhere; and
C. The ordinance directs the City Administrator to develop administrative regulations requiring owners to notify tenants of proposed construction schedules and provisions for tenant relocation, if applicable.

Councilmember Kalb insists that the proposed ordinance would not cause displacement, calling it “ant-displacement”, however, there’s no specific language in the document that guarantees what he claims, and the wording itself contradicts what he wrote. A simple line that states “Tenants that need to be temporarily relocated during seismic retrofit work must receive relocation payments” should be added.

On Twitter, Dave Guarino @allafarce, a proponent of the legislation, tweets…

As I look at this, and consider that the law’s without any assistance for the property owner (thus keeping rents from further upward pressure), it needs a true funding mechanism (rather than saying “some financial assistance is available”): enter the one law the Oakland City Council has been reluctant to implement: SB 628 Beall – which calls for the creation of infrastructure financing zones which allow the use of tax increment financing.

That’s the one way landlords can get help, since the law allows for the creation of affordable housing.

Stay tuned.

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Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media

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