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Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety (CAPSS)

To: CAPSS Public Advisory Committee members and other persons interested in CAPSS, the Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety

Dear Colleagues:

Attached is the latest draft for review and discussion by the Advisory Committee at the December 8 meeting. The contents and text are near their final form, but your comments are still welcome and will be considered.

We are continuing to improve the report by fleshing out some details and clarifying several points. The report summary will be revised and improved after we hear your comments. When published the report will include photographs that give meaning to illustrate our message and illustrate the building types.

The final chapter, Getting Started: A Plan of Action for 2011 through 2015, identifies specific actions needed to implement the report’s recommendation. At DBI’s request it is presented as a worksheet that can be used to develop the detail needed.

Please send us your comments to


If would prefer discussing your recommendations, please call 380-9142

We look forward to seeing you at the CAPSS Advisory Committee meeting on December 8 in City Hall.

Laura and Tom


Tobin & Associates
134 California Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941 USA
+1 415 380-9142 (office)
+1 415 595-8939 (mobile)
+1 415 380-9218 (facsimile)



Note: The CAPSS project team has recently been requested by DBI to revise the overall CAPSS program and schedule to begin the project with a focus on the City’s soft-story building hazards, with a goal of making recommendations to the Mayor by January 30, 2009 on a soft-story retrofit ordinance.

The CAPSS project will make policy recommendations to the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) regarding the earthquake performance of most privately-owned, existing buildings in the city. When enacted, these policy recommendations would reduce future earthquake damage and facilitate the repair of buildings damaged by earthquakes. The Applied Technology Council, ATC, manages the team and reports to DBI.

The first product following the soft-story recommendations will be a report on San Francisco’s earthquake risk—the impact of future earthquakes on City buildings, and the consequences to neighborhoods and citywide values. The report will describe the social and economic impacts of four “scenario” earthquakes, each a reasonable prospect of what could strike the City. Readers will then have current information to understand San Francisco ’s earthquake risk and may use the information to guide policy decisions.

CAPSS will recommend an “action plan” to the Department of Building Inspection to improve the city’s earthquake resilience by addressing the performance of existing buildings during an earthquake and facilitating the repair of damaged buildings after an earthquake.

The action plan will recommend policies to improve the city’s post-earthquake building repair standards. After an earthquake, some damaged buildings can be repaired to their original condition; others must include seismic upgrades in their repairs. The recommended policies will consider the intensity of ground shaking, amount of damage to each building, and possibly other factors to determine when upgrades would be required. Guidelines will be written for selected types of buildings to illustrate implementation of the overall policy.

The action plan will recommend policies to improve the seismic resistance of existing private residential and commercial buildings. These policies might include physical measures, such as bracing weak walls, and administrative measures that would enable, encourage or require the work to be done over a reasonable period.

CAPSS is guided by an Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from a number of neighborhood and special interest groups, earthquake specialists and agency representatives. The Advisory Committee chair, Dr. Mary Lou Zoback, is Vice President of the firm Risk Management Solutions, located in Fremont, and the former chief scientist for the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park. The Vice Chair is John Paxton of PAXCO, a real estate advisory firm in San Francisco .

An independent panel of experts will review the ATC Project team’s work to assure agreement on assumptions, analytical methods and conclusions.

DBI, the Advisory Committee and the ATC project team seek comments and advice from all interested parties. Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public. The project website <> will provide access to work products, meeting dates and locations, projects schedules and links to related sites. The website contains a contact email that interested parties also may use to send comments, and sign up to receive a bi monthly newsletter and project announcements.

For information on CAPSS,
If you have questions, please contact Laurence Kornfield, Chief Building Inspector at (415) 558-6244, or email

Related Links:

Soft-Story, Wood-Frame Buildings

Immediate Release Dec 18, 2008 - New Capss Studies Show Seismic High-Risks (PDF)

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