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Property Owners Failing To Comply With San Francisco Ordinance Could Face Legal Action

A soft-story apartment building in San Francisco

Over 1,100 property owners in San Francisco have yet to comply with a citywide ordinance to bring their properties up to seismic safety standards. These owners have until Sept. 15 to file permits to begin the process of bringing their tier-three wood-frame apartment buildings up to code, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The rule is part of a 2013 law that requires owners of soft-story buildings, those lacking walls or frames at street level that makes that story weaker and more susceptible to collapse in an earthquake, to retrofit their buildings. The current deadline applies to buildings with five to 15 apartments, and work does not need to be completed by the deadline. Only the permit with a plan needs to be filed.

Property owners failing to file a permit will initially receive a poster-sized earthquake warning sign posted on their property to make tenants and neighbors aware of the lack of compliance. Landlords who continue to ignore the law will be summoned to a hearing at the Department of Building Inspection to explain why they have not complied. Noncompliant owners could face fines, a lien and be referred to the City Attorney’s office for further legal action.

District Five, which includes Haight, Western Addition and Hayes Valley, has the highest noncompliance with 252 out of 729 tier three buildings not yet filing a retrofit plan.