Concrete Building Safety Program

The City of San Francisco is developing a program to identify and strengthen vulnerable concrete buildings. The City brought together a working group of people representing stakeholders potentially impacted to highlight top concerns and make recommendations about the implementation of a potential Concrete Building Safety Program.

Photo of buildings
Program Context and Goals

Some types of concrete buildings are now known to be unsafe in a large earthquake. Older concrete buildings have suffered catastrophic collapses in recent earthquakes in Mexico City and Christchurch, New Zealand. The City of San Francisco is developing the Concrete Building Safety Program (CBSP) to identify and address vulnerable concrete buildings in San Francisco, with the following goals:

  • Protect life and public safety
  • Preserve housing and critical use
  • Protect the economy
  • Preserve city vitality and character
  • Speed earthquake recovery
Stakeholder Working Group
Stakeholder Working Group

The City convened a Working Group of internal and external partners to provide guidance and feedback to City staff on the development of the Concrete Building Safety Program. The goal of this working group was to help ensure that the Program is technically sound, increases the resilience of the community, and is practical to implement by building owners.  This Working Group met eight times between October 2022 and September 2023.Learn more about the CBSP Working Group and review meeting agendas and slide decks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is it important to focus on concrete buildings?

Certain older concrete buildings are known to be potentially dangerous in earthquakes and pose a risk of death and injuries to their occupants. Serious damage or failure of even a few concrete buildings will have disproportionately large impacts on the City’s recovery, including impacts to surrounding buildings and neighborhoods, commercial activity, significant loss of housing, and potential loss of life. Concrete buildings contain much of San Francisco’s affordable housing stock, and are in jeopardy of being lost in the event of a major earthquake. Many smaller concrete buildings support production, distribution and repair uses, as well as neighborhood serving grocery stores and pharmacies. Retrofitting older concrete was identified as a priority in the Tall Buildings Study and Earthquake Safety Implementation Program (ESIP).

Which concrete buildings will the program address?

The concrete building safety program aims to address two types of potentially hazardous concrete buildings: Non-ductile concrete buildings and rigid-wall-flexible-diaphragm buildings (also called “tilt-ups”).

What progress has the City made so far on the Concrete Building Safety Program?

The Office of Resilience and Capital Planning (ORCP) contracted with the Applied Technology Council (ATC), a non-profit organization that convenes leading structural engineers, to develop technical recommendations and standards for a potential program. ORCP also contracted with Civicmakers, LLC to conduct a robust stakeholder engagement process. This process included 34 stakeholder interviews across 31 organizations, 8 working group meetings over 11 months, one concrete building walking tour, and three topic-specific focus groups. The stakeholder working group surfaced top concerns and priorities, and put forward a set of recommendations to the city on how a Concrete Building Safety Program should be implemented.  

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