Friday, October 5, 2007

Oakland's New Seismic Retrofit Incentive Program

If you are an Oakland homeowner, you simply must consider taking advantage of Oakland's new seismic retrofitting incentive program. And, if you are buying a home in Oakland, there is no reason not to retrofit your home. The City of Oakland is making it very easy and very affordable for you to save your home in the next earthquake.

First, the permitting process for retrofitting has been made cheap and simple. There is now just a flat fee of $250 . This includes the cost of the permit and sending an inspector out to approve your plans. Previously, this could have cost you an extra couple of thousands of dollars, depending on the scope of your project. But, now it is $250 whether it is a simple bracing or a major seismic retrofit project.

Also, to make things simple, the City is providing a set of pre-approved basic plans that can be used or altered for most homes in Oakland. This will save you even more money, because you will not have to spend as much on engineers and architects.

Finally, and here is the biggie, you can get a rebate of up to $5000 on your seismic retrofitting when you buy a home in Oakland. If you submit your $250 permit application in the first 60 days after recording the property transfer, you can qualify for this rebate. You then have 180 days to get your retrofit plan approved, and another year to complete the work. At that point, you can be reimbursed half of your city transfer taxes, up to $5000. (What makes this deal even better, is that you probably only paid half of the city transfer tax as part of your purchase).

So, I urge all Oakland homeowners to look into this great new program. Spending some time and money now on this matter, could make your life a lot easier (and save you tens of thousands in repairs), when the next Big One hits. Find out more from the City of Oakland's website.

If you live in Berkeley, that city also has a very good incentive program. If you have any questions about seismic retrofitting and civic incentive programs, just let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or


Anonymous said...

The City of Oakland web page says the rebate is no more than .5% of total price, in other words, not half the city transfer tax, only 1/3. The tax is now 1.5%, maybe it used to be 1% ???

Anyway, if you do it yourself, and pay the $250 permit fee, (just to put some foundation bolts in? What a ripoff) you are not going to get a lot back. If they will reimburse you for specialty tools you had ot buy, (impage drill, epoxy, regular drill, etc) then it's worth the bureaucracy, but otherwise, if it's a small do it yourself project, it's not much.

James said...

Dear Mary

The Berkeley Plan Set is a disaster in many ways espeically for first time builders and do it your selfers.
I work with them on a constant basis and on a very real time basis have to hear all the horror problems associated with this very very poorly thought out plan.
You will find more information about this plan on my site

Sue Piper, and some others in the city mean well. They just refuse to listen to anyone who has to deal with the problems that this plan has created. All you will get from some of these nice people is double talk.
And, yes I have been trying my darndest to get not only good engineers who actually know how to build this work for residential work involved with it, but have submitted numerious corrected versions of the plan to all levels of city government in Berkeley, Oakland, and the SEAoNC engineers who have put this voluntary " " plan into place.

This plan may be sophisticated, however when you call local builders in this field of endavour, smart is not the comment you will get about it.


James Gillett OAKLAND