Staying In Business: What To Do To Survive Soft-Story Seismic Retrofits

by Shane Downing : hoodline – excerpt

From the Planning Department web site: The Mandatory Soft Story Program provides a weekly update on the status of properties identified as soft story. Should you have any questions on the status of your property or would like more information on the Soft Story Program, please contact (415) 558-6699 or email softstory@sfgov.orglink to commercial soft story map and
View Soft Story Properties List (Excel)

With the city’s mandatory soft-story seismic retrofits having an impact on local businesses, we collected the resources and information that commercial renters need to stay afloat.

We’ve used the words “seismic” and “retrofit” with increasingly more frequency in recent months. This is due to a mandatory soft-story seismic retrofit law that the city passed back in 2013.

Back in February, we focused on how this law is impacting residential tenants. Landlords are able to pass along one hundred percent of the cost, including interest, on to tenants.

However, with beloved neighborhood businesses like Bibliohead, Rooky Ricardo’s Records, Tantrum, Merch, and Bean There Cafe all being affected by these same mandatory soft-story seismic retrofits, we decided to take a closer look at the commercial side of this program’s impact.

The Law

As we previously reported, the 2013 retrofit law is proactively trying to strengthen soft-story buildings with three or more stories and five or more units: wood-framed buildings, built before 1978, that have large openings — such as storefront windows or garages — at the ground-floor level and usually residential units above…

Advice For Commercial Renters

“There are 700 plus properties that have ground floor commercial spaces,” said Dick-Endrizzi.” According to her, depending on the property’s size, multiple ground floor commercial spaces can be located in the same building.

“Businesses will be impacted [by this program] and each building is a bit different,” said Dick-Endrizzi. “Some retrofitting is able to be done with the business still in operation, but, we are seeing a fair number where the businesses have to close or the property owner is doing it in between leases.”

This is mainly what we’ve been reporting…

Resources for Small Businesses and Commercial Renters

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area offers legal services for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The Bar Association of San Francisco also offers  lawyer referral and legal information services to commercial renters.

Amy Anderson welcomes commercial renters and small business owners to contact her directly with questions.

Here’s a map of identified properties that are mandated for seismic retrofits put together by the Department of Building Inspection. If you have any questions on the status of your property or would like more information on the soft-story program, contact (415) 558-6699 or email

If you’re looking for more information on the mandatory soft-story seismic retrofit program, plan on attending the 2016 Earthquake Retrofit Fair on Monday, April 18th. The event is free to the public and will be held from 3:00-7:00pm in Bill Graham Civic Auditorium… (more)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s