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Information for City of Berkeley Soft-Story Building Owners

On December 3, 2013 City Council adopted Ordinance No. 7,318-N.S. amending Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 19.39 to require property owners of soft, weak or open front (“SWOF”) buildings with five or more dwelling units to retrofit their buildings within the next five years. Owners have three years to apply for a building permit and two years to complete the work after submitting their permit application. The law applies to buildings constructed prior to 1978 and takes effect January 4, 2014. This is the second phase of the Soft Story Program.

Under the first phase of the soft story program, since 2005, SWOF building owners have been required to submit an engineering evaluation report identifying their building’s weaknesses and ways to remedy those weaknesses, to post an earthquake warning sign and notify their tenants of the building’s potentially hazardous condition. Here’s the link to the text of the ordinance: ordinance No. 7,318-N.S.

Enginious Structures, Inc. has been working with the City of Berkeley since they passed their soft-story ordinance. Out of the dozens of seismic reports Enginious Structures has prepared, the city plan check approved all of them. For examples of our soft-story projects, please visit our Soft-Story Project Gallery.

By choosing Enginious Structures to complete your seismic engineering report, you can ensure that your experience will be cost-effective, innovative, practical and sustainable.

For more information about preparing a soft-story report, please email us at or call our office at (510) 272-9999 to speak with a structural engineer experienced in seismic analysis and retrofit design.

More information about the City of Berkeley’s soft-story ordinance can be found at

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