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City to ID hazardous 'soft-story' buildings

Original post made on May 12, 2015

The city of Mountain View is set to follow the example of San Francisco and Berkeley after staff last week proposed taking the first steps towards encouraging -- or forcing -- property owners to retrofit buildings in the city that are more likely to collapse in major earthquakes.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 11, 2015, 4:48 PM

Comments (6)

Posted by MV resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

"A 'substantial' number of rental units"

I see the $$$ going up for rental units to cover retrofit already. Already people around Rengstorff, California and Latham can't afford rent. Ask them if they prefer earthquake safety or a place to live. Hard choice.

Posted by OldMV
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2015 at 4:27 pm

This is an ideal opportunity to condemn may obsolete and run-down rental complexes and trailer parks and to replace them with lower density and owner-occupied upscale condos and townhouses. It's time for MV to face reality. It is a totally insane farce for MV to refuse to realize that our high paying tech jobs are forcing us to become an upper middle-class community. The sooner the MV bureaucrats realize this, the better for MV and its homeowners.

Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

This seems like an ideal way to force out those of us who are already struggling to pay the sky high rents in Mountain View. 1100 units is a significant number of the units that are currently rented and would most likely put upward pressure on all rental units. Also, for those units that require costly upgrades, it could lead to those units being sold and 'redeveloped' into more expensive housing or turned into yet more offices. Also, it would be great if some clarification could be provided as to whether or not renters would be protected from evictions and what happens if the upgrade/retrofit requires tenants to vacate the premises for a week or more.

As the previous poster said, the choice between earthquake safety and a place to live is a hard one. I would only hope that the owners have already been doing all the necessary maintenance ad repairs for safety and that if and when this work is mandated, the number of units requiring the work will be far less than 1100.

Jim Neal
Old Mountain View

Posted by Filippo
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

I am the owner of a condo in neighboring Palo Alto, a set of soft story buildings. When the Board suggested a few years ago that we proceed with an engineering study and ultimately a retrofit of the units, you wouldn't believe the level of animosity and venom that developed among the owners. Note that in our case it was a matter of protecting one's own property. The proposal was not approved in the end, so now we are still in danger from a major earthquake.
In the case of MV, I am afraid the net effect will be higher rents for renters. As one previous poster says, there should be protections against eviction for existing tenants, and ultimately the City Council must show some spine and manage this process.

Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Earthquake retrofit would be super expensive. The owners would have to pass the cost on to the renters to be able to afford it.

OldMV, I see your point about making all of MV "middle class." Although, that could be a slippery slope in that the middle class would become the lower class and be eventually priced out also. Look at Los Altos/Los Altos Hills.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 14, 2015 at 3:59 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

My parents made their own retrofit after the '89 quake. The main beam supporting the roof got a large metal bridge joint put on it and bolts running through it were tightened down to force the main beam back into alignment. No tons of money spent, just a lot of common sense.
However, you may want to look at " pop-tops " and " scrape-offs " that are built with the cheaper materials used NOW than 50 years ago. These " flip " buildings are not built like some older buildings were ( chip board, anyone? ) I think that looking at recent building permits might be a good place to start.
Every time I had a renovation, NO CHIP BOARD TO BE USED was made clear to the contractor.

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