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Information for City of Oakland Soft-Story Building Owners

The screening program applies only to buildings which meet the following criteria:

Owners of such buildings must hire a licensed civil or structural engineer, a licensed B contractor, or certified building or home inspector to complete a level 1 screening. The initial Level 1 screening report is fairly simple, requiring the type of construction of the floor and wall assemblies, as well as scaled dimensioned plans with the layout of the exterior walls, interior partitions, and information about the openings in these walls at the ground floor level. Photos of the exterior elevations are also required.

A Level 2 Evaluation report may be required if the Level 1 Screening confirms a soft-story building or if the building site is on a significant ground slope (rise of the ground adjacent to any side of the ground floor is 6 feet or more). A Level 2 Evaluation Report is a full engineering investigation and analysis similar to what is required by the cities of Berkeley or Alameda which must be prepared by a licensed Structural Engineer or Architect. This report must also be provided to the building's occupants and future tenants.

Although there are 1493 buildings on Oakland’s soft-story building list, at the time of writing only 43 notices have been sent so far. All building owners have 6 months from the date of the notice but no later than July 29, 2011 to file a level 1 screening form or Level 2 report if required. There is a $78.60 fee for filing a Level 1 Screening or Level 2 report. According to the City of Oakland, failure to submit a screening or evaluation report will subject the building owner to a $5000 penalty.

Copies of the level 1 screening form or of the Soft-Story Seismic Screening Programs Frequently Asked Questions document are available at the Oakland Building Department or at our office.

For more information about completing level 1 or level 2 evaluations please email us at or call our office at (510) 272-9999 to speak with a structural engineer experienced in preparation of the seismic evaluation and screening reports.

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

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