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El Cerrito Now Requires Mandatory Retrofit

Inside the Bay Area reported that El Cerrito has adopted a mandatory retrofit ordinance twenty years after the Loma Prieta earthquake. This program had supporters including an earthquake geologist who expressed that URM’s are a definitive factor on who survives in the event of an earthquake. He also stated that in April a moderate earthquake in Italy caused 300 deaths due to URM’s.

The threat of disaster is much closer to home though because in 2008 an earthquake forecast for California stated that within the next 30 years the Bay area has a 63% chance of experiencing a 6.7 Richter scale earthquake. However, El Ceritto may face an even greater risk because Hayward line fault runs through El Cerrito only one mile from San Pablo Ave where 17 vulnerable buildings stand.

Prior to this mandate, El Cerrito has followed the California law which requires only that cities in “high-risk zones” to post signage at entrances of unreinforced masonry buildings and develop a program to mitigate the potential damage by a natural disaster. In addition, the city also paid Seisco Engineering $170,000 to evaluate the 52 buildings and required building owners to report their intentions to retrofit. However, the voluntary program that has been in place for 18 years did not inspire building owners to seismically strengthen the buildings so the mandate has been put in place.

The mandate for El Cerrito will require strengthening of URM structures and compliance to to 1997 Uniform Code for Building Conservation in less than five years. However, extensions and permit fee waivers will now be provided due to concerns councilmembers and building owners. Extensions will be granted on a case by case basis due to economic concerns and lack of loans for building owners. The ordinance set deadlines for the retrofit of the 2 high, 13 moderate, and two low risk structures that Seisco had accessed. Initially the deadlines were defined as one year to plan for retrofit for high-risk, two for moderate-risk, and three for low-risk buildings and one additional year to complete the retrofit. However, now all the deadlines will be pushed back by six additional months.

You can read the full Inside Bay Area Article about the ordinance here.
You can also read the full municipal code

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