“Soft story” buildings, ubiquitous in San Francisco, will now be required to upgrade their quake readiness by strengthening ground floors. The new requirement will apply to buildings at least three-stories tall, was built before 1978, and have at least 5 residential units.

The upgrades, which must be completed in the next four to seven years, and the timeframe for each building, will be established based upon the assessed risk. Some 3,000 buildings will be subjected to the requirement.

The fear is that soft-story buildings depend upon the garage on the ground floor to provide support, and during a quake, the garage can be prone to collapse. In the event of a large-scale seismic event, City officials fear a “Katrina-like” effect with widespread destruction.

Similar proposals have failed in California, despite deadly earthquakes, because of the cost to property owners. Retrofits could cost between $60,000 and $130,000.

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times.