Per Municipal Code Chapter 19.39, the city of Berkeley established a mandatory wood-frame soft-story program in January 2014. Notices and Orders have been issued to over 300 building owners affected by this ordinance. The full text of the ordinance can be found here.


Berkeley’s wood-frame soft-story program applies to existing buildings of wood-frame construction that have the following characteristics:

  • Wood frame construction
  • Permitted for construction prior to January 1, 1978
  • Contain five or more dwelling units
  • Ground floor containing parking or similar open floor or basement space causing soft, weak, or open lines where there exists at least one or more levels above; or walls of wood construction which are laterally braced with nonconforming structural materials on any floor


All buildings which have been determined to fall within the scope of this ordinance were required to submit a permit application for the required retrofit no later than December 31, 2016. The ordinance requires that the retrofit is completed within two years of the submittal of the building permit application.