Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 16, 2024
San Francisco Mayor London Breed Launches Initiative for Earthquake-Proofing Vulnerable BuildingsShefali Lincoln on Unsplash

In a major step aimed to bolster the earthquake resilience of San Francisco, Mayor London Breed has announced a new initiative to screen and beef up vulnerable concrete buildings throughout the city. The executive directive, named as such after the Mayor issued it, orders City Departments to work on identifying these potential hazards and establish seismic retrofit standards.

With the looming threat of an earthquake always on the horizon, San Francisco has taken action to not only safeguard lives but also to sustain its vital housing and economic infrastructure. The City is set to quickly move to locate the at-risk concrete structures which might not visibly standout but can prove deadly in the event of a major shake. "For us it’s not a matter of if, but when," Mayor Breed mentioned in the directive, as reported by

According to this directive, the Office of Resilience and Capital Planning (ORCP) will partner with the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) to carefully draft legislation that will mandate a screening process to identify concrete buildings predisposed to failure during significant seismic events. The need for such a screening phase stems from the difficulty in pinpointing which buildings are made of concrete from an outside glance.

Adding to the city's preparedness, DBI has also been asked to develop and publish standards for retrofitting, providing clear guidance for building owners ready to strengthen their structures. "Assessing our real risk grounded in building-by-building data will help us better understand the magnitude of work needed and options for mitigating displacement and cost," City Administrator Carmen Chu told

A stark reminder of the earthquake potential in the region came from a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey, which pegs San Francisco with a 72 percent chance of a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake by 2043 — a scenario not unlike the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Evoking the past to safeguard the future, Director Patrick O’Riordan of the Department of Building Inspection emphasized the necessity of the directive to identify and improve city structures.

This initiative is receiving support from various stakeholders, including the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. They both underscore the need for pre-emptive measures to ensure a resilient recovery post-quake. "We are grateful for this opportunity to identify and therefore mitigate risk to concrete buildings," stated Mary Ellen Carroll, Executive Director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, as relayed by