San Francisco releases recommendations for the Concrete Building Safety Program

The report published today summarizes a year-long stakeholder engagement process that identified technical, economic, and social considerations of a seismic retrofit program for concrete buildings in San Francisco.
April 16, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, the Office of Resilience and Capital Planning, a division of the City Administrator’s Office, announced the release of stakeholder recommendations for the formation of the Concrete Building Safety Program (CBSP). The CBSP Stakeholder Engagement Report represents the first step in the creation of a new seismic safety program which aims to address a subset of concrete buildings known to be vulnerable in large earthquakes. The report is the result of a 12 month-long collaboration between community members, technical experts, and City staff to identify concerns from vulnerable communities, provide recommendations for program policy, and to ensure that the future program is understandable and implementable by technical and non-technical stakeholders alike. 

“San Franciscans survived and rebuilt this City after the 1906 earthquake and Loma Prieta. We understand how programs like our soft-story retrofit program help save lives and pre-emptively reduce damage. As we look to the future, this report is a valuable first step and roadmap toward a focus on concrete buildings," said City Administrator Carmen Chu. “I thank Laurel Mathews on my team and the many people who contributed their expertise, perspectives and time to ensure we consider financial and displacement challenges along with opportunities to drive down the long-term cost of recovery and rebuilding. I look forward to continuing our work in partnership as we chart the way forward toward a stronger and more resilient San Francisco."

The CBSP is one of several programs identified in the San Francisco Earthquake Safety Implementation Program (ESIP), San Francisco’s 30-year plan for improving seismic safety. The CBSP is intended to assess and mitigate seismic risk for the City’s concrete building stock. As part of the initial steps to develop the CBSP, ORCP convened a working group of 41 community members representing stakeholder groups such as residential and commercial building owners, tenants, technical and policy experts, City staff, businesses, labor, builders, and developers. 

Through these meetings, the CBSP Stakeholder Working Group compiled recommendations for implementing this program that include comprehensive communications and outreach, financing information and resources, and process improvements. This report represents the City's efforts to elevate the concerns of stakeholders, prioritizing considerations of vulnerable communities and the rights of tenants. 

“This stakeholder report is critical to understanding what it will take to make our concrete and tilt-up buildings more resilient to earthquakes,” said Brian Strong, Chief Resilience Officer and Director of San Francisco’s Office of Resiliency and Capital Planning. “Participants consisted of representatives of groups and organizations that will be directly impacted by the program, including building tenants and owners, businesses, developers, hotels, associations, planners, and technical experts. Their recommendations reflect the diversity of their experience and care for San Francisco’s future. By incorporating feedback early in the process, the Concrete Building Safety Program is building on the successes of prior programs in our Earthquake Safety Implementation Program, like the Soft Story Retrofit Program, which made more than 40,000 homes in San Francisco safer.”

“Resilience is a product of preparation. And earthquake preparation has four main components: evaluation, financing, outreach, and construction - each of which is thoughtfully addressed in this report,” said San Francisco Department of Building Inspection Director Patrick O’Riordan. “We view this document as the beginning of a conversation to ensure that San Francisco is ready to withstand and recover from the next big earthquake and we look forward to the next steps in this process.”

“The CBSP report, the result of a comprehensive community engagement process, integrates multiple stakeholder perspectives and outlines recommendations which meld complex technical, economic, and process strategies into an ordinance which addresses this public safety concern with an appropriate time urgency,” said Sarah Atkinson, Hazard Resilience Senior Policy Manager at SPUR. “With almost daily reminders of earthquakes around the world, SPUR commends the City for this initiative, and offers our continued support to achieve a more seismically sustainable and resilient City.”

The CBSP Stakeholder Engagement Report is available to read here.