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New: Neighbors and Students to Knock on Tenant Doors in Seismic Compliance Day of Action in Berkeley

From Igor Tregub, Rent Commissioner
Wednesday April 11, 2012 - 08:39:00 AM

Recent seismic activity in the East Bay has been the latest series of events to highlight the importance of retrofitting Berkeley's apartment buildings. A magnitude 6.7 earthquake on the Richter scale, such as one that is predicted by the U.S. Geographic Survey to take place on the Hayward Fault in the next 30 years, could lead to the total collapse of hundreds of seismically unsafe apartment buildings in Berkeley and a terrible loss of life and limb.  

More than 75% of Berkeley's soft-story buildings surveyed in 2011 are not seismically retrofitted. Soft-story buildings refer to construction that has a garage, commercial space, or other space in an area where a solid supporting wall would otherwise be built. 86 of the 269 apartment thus surveyed are not even in compliance with the first, basic step (Phase I) of Berkeley’s Soft-Story Ordinance (passed in 2005), which requires landlords of soft-story buildings to notify their tenants of the buildings’ inherent seismic instability and to commission an engineering study.  

Efforts to mandate seismic retrofitting of soft-story residential or mixed-use properties by the City of Berkeley (Phase II) and to enforce the existing Phase I have been stymied over a lack of funding, staffing, and prioritization. 

This Wednesday, a coalition of concerned neighbors and tenants takes matters into their own hands by knocking on doors, handing out tips on disaster preparedness, informing tenants of soft-story buildings of the fact that their landlord is not yet in compliance with Berkeley’s Soft-Story Ordinance, and of the tenants’ rights under the municipal code.  

A press conference featuring elected officials and concerned community members will take place on the Steps of Sproul at 5pm. Immediately following the conference, these community members will walk to buildings in the vicinity of the UC Berkeley campus to inform their tenants of the high stakes. 

Wednesday, April 11, 5-7:30pm (Rain or Shine, but Hopefully the Latter!) 

5pm: Meet at steps of Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley Campus 

5:30pm: Departure to buildings surrounding UC Berkeley campus (if arriving later, please contact Igor Tregub at 510-295-8798 to find out where to join walking group) 

Who: Berkeley City Councilmembers, other elected officials, and student leaders (ASUC, the Berkeley Student Cooperatives, and student organizations) will speak at press conference. The action is co-sponsored by the ASUC, CalPIRG, and Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin, Laurie Capitelli, and Kriss Worthington. 

This action is organized by Rent Board Commissioners Jesse Townley and Igor Tregub in their personal capacity and is not sanctioned by any public agency, including the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board.