SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed legislation that requires the seismic retrofit of soft-story buildings, with the hope of preventing the loss of thousands of apartments in a major earthquake.

Soft-story buildings are those most in danger of collapse in a quake, and are at least three stories tall and have large, open first levels that aren’t reinforced.

Supervisor David Chiu said this measure would require seismic upgrades of any of those buildings with at least five units.

“The next big one is expected to be 2-3 times as large as Loma Prieta, and we have to move forward on this as quickly as possible,” he said.

Critics agree that seismic upgrades are needed in soft-story buildings, but some are concerned that landlords can pass along the costs to tenants.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said to have the buildings fail is even worse.

“It is in all of our interests to make sure that this housing stays intact during the next earthquake,” Wiener said.

The legislation does include a hardship provision to protect low income tenants and some trailing legislation is in the works to make qualifying for a hardship easy.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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