SAN FRANCISCO—Mayor London Breed issued an Executive Directive on Thursday, January 24 to strengthen high-rise buildings and create a comprehensive recovery plan in preparation for the next major earthquake.
According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, the Directive teaches city departments to work with community stakeholders, develop regulations to address geotechnical and engineering issues, clarify emergency response and safety inspection roles, and establish a Disaster Recovery Task Force for citywide recovery planning, including a comprehensive recovery plan for the Financial District and surrounding neighborhoods by the end of the year. It is projected that San Francisco has a 72 percent chance of experiencing a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake before the year 2043.
“We know that the next major earthquake will hit at any time and every day we should be working to prepare for it,” said Mayor London Breed. “While the City has taken a number of steps over the years to make our city more resilient, I want to ensure that our most densely occupied areas are as prepared as possible and that our departments, businesses, community groups, and residents are ready to respond. This means doing the work to make our buildings safer now, but also creating a comprehensive plan so that San Francisco can immediately get to work helping our residents, businesses, and neighborhoods recover after the earthquake stops.”
To prepare for an earthquake, San Francisco convened an Executive Panel that includes the City Administrator, Directors of the Departments of Building Inspection (DBI) and Emergency Management (DEM), the Chief Resilience Officer, and the Public Utilities Commission to work with professionals from the nonprofit Applied Technology Council to review San Francisco’s tall buildings and make recommendations to improve the City’s preparedness and ability to recuperate in the event of a major earthquake. They developed the Tall Building Safety Strategy, which is the newest effort to achieve this goal, building on efforts such as the Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety (CAPSS), a report and 30-year work plan initiated after the Loma Prieta earthquake.
“Every San Franciscan has a role to play in improving earthquake safety. Now that experts have provided their recommendations, we will work to build community consensus about the next steps,” said City Administrator Naomi M. Kelly. “We are a resilient city that must remain well-prepared for the very real threat of the next earthquake.”
The Mayor’s Executive Directive states that:
-The City Administrator and the Directors of the DEM, DBI, and Planning Department will conduct community outreach to inform stakeholders about the Tall Building Safety Strategy.
-DBI and the Building Inspection Commission are tasked with developing additional regulations to address engineering issues and explore adopting higher seismic design standards.
-DEM, DBI and Public Works are assigned with updating policies for implementing safety improvements and clarifying departmental roles following an earthquake.
-The City Administrator will establish a Disaster Recovery Task Force, which will develop a recovery framework, including a comprehensive recovery plan for the Financial District and adjacent neighborhoods.
-The City Administrator will be responsible for sharing knowledge and information with other cities with tall buildings that face similar seismic risks.
“All disasters are local. This means emergency planning and response must originate with local government,” said Department of Emergency Management Director Mary Ellen Carroll. “We also believe recovery is successful when the local community is in the driver’s seat. The San Francisco Disaster Recovery Task Force places the City and our community in charge of our own destiny and will influence how we rebuild our neighborhoods, businesses and infrastructure following a disaster.”