Haiti Shakes Newsom in New Retrofit Direction

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A collapsed Marina building after the 1989 earthquake.

    Mayor Gavin Newsom is officially going hard line on soft stories now, introducing legislation that would mandate seismic retrofits on buildings with large windows or garages on the ground floor.

    While the San Francisco mayor has historically been lukewarm on the idea — he supported voluntary retrofits, and even offered exemptions from future mandates if owners bit — numbers published several months ago made the a pretty strong case for mandatory upgrades.

    That is, it might cost around $260 million to make the fixes when all's said and done, but that's compared to about $1.5 billion in damages if nothing's done.

    At this point, it might be a little shrill to bring up Haiti, as the Board of Supervisors' president did, but the point's been taken.

    While the mayor's office explores how to put the legislation together, we know a few things: there'd be low-interest loans for building owners, and, naturally, a potential penalty for not doing the retrofits if they're necessary. In any case: construction stimulus!