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Oakland Mandatory Soft Story Ordinance

On January 22, 2019, the city of Oakland adopted the municipal ordinance (OMC) No. 13516, also known as the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program. As part of that program, the owners of buildings that appear on the List and Map of Potential Soft Story Buildings have been notified that their building may be subject to the program’s evaluation and retrofit requirements since the beginning in May 2019. The buildings that are on that list are separated into 3 compliance tiers, each with its own set of deadlines for exemption application, seismic evaluation, and permit drawings and construction completion.

Numerous owners have already reached out to RDH to verify if there are grounds for exempting the building from the program. If the building cannot be exempted, the following steps are required to be completed:

Step 1: Perform mandatory Evaluation and Schematic Retrofit Report and submit initial Affidavit of Compliance.

Oakland Municipal Code (OMC) Section 15.27.050.C calls for an evaluation and a schematic retrofit report, with criteria given in OMC Section 15.27.165. The purpose of the evaluation and schematic retrofit report is to provide the owner with information about seismic risks other than the vulnerable target story, especially risks that are expected to be relatively easy to mitigate while the target story is retrofitted. If deficiencies identified by this evaluation are proposed to be retrofitted, that work is considered non-mandatory. Upon completion and review of the report, the building owner needs to submit initial affidavit of compliance with the city, indicating that they have obtained, reviewed, and understood the report.

Step 2: Complete structural design calculations and drawings for the mandatory work.

Except where compliance by engineering evaluation or engineering analysis is demonstrated, design of the mandatory seismic retrofit of the target story or stories, as required by OMC Sections 15.27.050.D and 15.27.170, is required to comply with the engineering Criteria for Target Story Retrofit Using California Existing Building Code Chapter A4 or ASCE 41- Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings: Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings. A structural engineer is required to prepare and submit structural calculations and structural design drawings for the seismic retrofit meeting said criteria and submit them for obtaining the building permit.

Step 3: Perform retrofit work and obtain approval on final inspection; submit final affidavit of compliance.

RDH has significant experience investigating, evaluating, rehabilitating and seismically retrofitting multi-family wood-framed apartment buildings such as the ones included in this ordinance. Our field evaluation staff and project managers have carried out hundreds of structural and seismic condition evaluations. Alexander (Sasha) Itsekson is the Principal Structural Engineer in our Oakland’s office and has 30 years of relevant experience, including 15 years of seismically retrofitting soft story apartment buildings throughout the Bay Area.

Please let us know if we can assist in this complicated process.

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