Wednesday, October 17, 2018

IMPORTANT UPDATE: San Francisco's Tall Buildings Safety Strategy Report Released - Seismic Effects and Geotechnical Considerations

UPDATE - October 17, 2018

The Tall Buildings Safety Strategy report has been released. We recommend that you review the document and all the recommendations. Any feedback – and if you’d like to be involved in future discussions – should be sent to

The team that produced the missive will present the suggested policy actions in-detail at the BOMA San Francisco Codes and Regulations Seminar on November 8th (click on the link to learn more and register).

From the report:
The recommendations of the Tall Buildings Safety Strategy, prepared by seismic engineering experts of the non-profit Applied Technology Council, stem from a study of the 156 tall buildings in San Francisco, primarily in the northeast neighborhoods. The recommendations are also applicable to a wider network of buildings that support similar functions or may share similar vulnerabilities. The recommendations are presented in this report with the specific issues they were developed to resolve and with a proposed timeline for implementation.

Each recommended action identifies one or more City departments to lead its implementation. However, implementation of any new policy is assumed to involve appropriate coordination with other City departments, outside experts (as needed), and other stakeholders. Some recommended actions require enactment of legislation by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors or action by the Building Inspection Commission and can only commence after these approvals.

BOMA San Francisco is well-positioned to work with policy makers to ensure that new and, most prominently, existing building code changes, protects life-safety but also ensures a rational approach to address issues unique to existing structures. It is paramount that any policy action is:
  • Rationally implementable and recognizes the constraints inherent with structures built at different time periods;
  • Involves affected stakeholders;
  • And, ensures appropriate timelines for execution.
BOMA San Francisco’s membership is looking forward to working with the City and County of San Francisco in the near-term to discuss the approach to the Strategy’s recommendations.


Original Post - June 15, 2018

A recent article in the New York Times, At Risk in a Big Quake: 39 of San Francisco’s Top High Rises, "includes a list of buildings that are potentially vulnerable to a large quake." The San Francisco Bay Area is in seismic zone and those who live and work in the area are likely aware of that fact.

In light of the potential for seismic activity, The City and County of San Francisco's Office of Resilience and Capital Planning is in the process of producing a report on the subject of seismic effects on tall buildings in San Francisco, as well as geotechnical considerations related to tall buildings.

BOMA San Francisco, through our Codes and Regulations Committee, participated in the first stakeholder meeting on March 6, 2018 that provided an overview of the Tall Building Study and learned more about the team's progress to date. The team leading the Study from Stanford University and the private sector, also provided an overview of their effort at the March Codes and Regulations Committee.

The Study is expected to be completed in October 2018.

The report will:
  • Clearly characterize the issues and available information;
  • Propose regulatory and procedural recommendations where appropriate to the subject studied;
  • Scope out future work items.
The work under this project will be performed under the six tasks, detailed below, and compiled in the report.
  • Task 1: Seismic Performance Characterization of Existing Tall Buildings 
    • This task is developing an inventory for purposes of establishing the broad scope and context of tall buildings in San Francisco.
  • Task 2: Tall Building Effects 
    • This task summarizes seismic risks with tall buildings with recommendations for new policy and further research. 
  • Task 3: Standards for Post- Earthquake Structural Evaluation
  • Task 4: Barriers to Reoccupancy of Tall Buildings
  • Task 5: Costs and Benefits of Higher Performance Goals for New Construction
  • Task 6: Geotechnical Engineering for Tall Buildings 
    • This task will review and compile best practices in geotechnical engineering that could apply in San Francisco.
Please contact with any questions you may have.

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