Berkeley homeowners could get $3K for seismic upgrades

Alex N. Gecan

This photo shows a road in the East Bay after the 1868 earthquake. Berkeley has invited qualifying homeowners to apply for grants to reinforce their homes against earthquakes. Courtesy of Richard Schwartz, photographer unknown

Berkeley officials invite qualifying homeowners to register for a seismic upgrade lottery that could net each home up to $3,000 to shore up their homes against earthquakes.

The “Earthquake Brace + Bolt” grants, managed by the California Residential Mitigation Program, are available to homeowners in specific ZIP codes around the state who must live in the buildings they intend to reinforce. The buildings must be between one and four units, and there are a number of other criteria the buildings and applicants must meet.

The grants are available for homeowners looking either to bolt their foundations to the frames of their homes or to reinforce crawl space or “cripple walls” with plywood in addition to the “bolt” precaution, according to the program’s website. “This helps prevent the house from sliding or toppling off its foundation during an earthquake,” according to the site.

The retrofits can cost more than twice the grant amount — up to $7,000 — but supplemental grants are available to households with an annual income below $87,360, according to the program website.

Applications for the “lottery” are open until Feb. 21, according to the city’s announcement and the program website.

Other programs are, were or will be available to Berkeley homeowners and businesses with different types of architecture.

An “Earthquake Soft Story Retrofit Program,” also administered by the California Residential Mitigation Program, took applications until May 2023 and offered to reimburse eligible owners of some more recent single-family homes up to 75% of the cost of a retrofit, capped at $13,000, for homes that have a living space or “soft story” above a garage. The same organization is devising a program for multi-family homes with soft stories but has not yet rolled it out.

Berkeley has also administered its grant funding programs for seismic retrofits in recent years.

The city keeps a list of seismic retrofits mandated by its municipal building code on its website, along with a list of recommendations for earthquake safety.

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Alex N. Gecan Crime & Safety,Nature,Earthquakes

2024-01-18 00:35:00 , Berkeleyside

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