Earthquake retrofiting

John Popescu's picture

I don't know if the discussion is still active at City Hall regarding mandatory earthquake retrofits on what are deemed "soft story" buildings.

Most homes in the city are of a two story variety with the lower story being a one or two car garage.  The upper story is however many bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, dining rooms, etc.

I recall reading about a year ago there was a movement to get owners of such buildings to install structural braces , plywood on open framed walls, etc.

My question is this:  How would this impact my property taxes ?  I'm currently assessed at the 1977 valuation of my home and fear I would lose such basis as any earthquake retrofit work would trigger a revaluation of my property to, possibly, current market levels.

I'm all for earthquake safety and don't mind the investment to such however what I do take issue with is what I think may be a veiled attempt to raise my property taxes which I can barely afford as it is.


Phil Ting's picture

New Construction and How It Adds to your Property Tax Assessment


Great Question!  You are absolutely right that when you build on your current property and it adds you might be reassessed and your property tax assessment might go up. 

Here is a quick fact sheet from our office -

There are a number of exceptions.  If federal, state or local government requires you to do something like fire, ADA and life safety, these additions are reassessable, but eligible for exclusion.  For example, if you anchor bolt your property to protect it from earthquakes, this can be excluded from reassessment.  If you are making your property ADA accessible, this is excludable.  If you are upgrading for any seismic issue, this is excludable.  In addition, if you are remodeling and upgrading an older property, like most properties in San Francisco, these comparable upgrades, in general, are not reassessable.  For example, if you are upgrading your plumbing or electrical lines, this is not reassessable.  If you are remodeling and updating your bathroom or kitchen, this is generally not reassessable unless you do something  significantly different in terms of footprint or additional square footage.

If you add square footage, this is almost always reassessable and you will see your property tax assessment increases.  Example are: adding a second floor or knocking down a wall and expanding your property.

Hope this helps,


Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137