Cities across California are struggling with how to convince property owners to retrofit buildings at risk of collapse during a major earthquake, the majority of them being “Soft story” buildings. In one of my previous newsletters (okay, maybe more than one) I mentioned that placing a placard on the front of the building, much like the way restaurants have letter grading, would force land lords to act in order not to lose tenants.

Like many other things, one of the most progressive cities in California, San Francisco, is using an unusual tactic: trying to publicly shame building owners into shoring up their structures to better withstand violent earthquakes. The city will slap large signs with red letters and the drawings of a destroyed building on thousands of apartment complexes that violate San Francisco’s seismic safety laws and ordinances passed last year.

“We wanted something that caught people’s attention, which I think this very well does.” said Patrick Otellini, San Francisco’s director of seismic safety. In other words, don’t live or work in this building, it may collapse. “We saw that other programs had been wildly unsuccessful. We wanted a poster that drives change and lets people know what’s going on.”

No other California city has gone so far to inform the public about potentially dangerous buildings and pressure property owners to make fixes.

Hello Los Angeles and the surrounding hundreds of cities……!!!!!!

We have close to 30 to 40 thousand buildings under the “soft story” category. Where are our signs to warn people? I need your help to educate and inform the public and city officials. Please voice your support with city officials to act soon!

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