2009 “Innovation and Exemplary Practice in Earthquake Risk Reduction” Awards

The 2009 “Innovation and Exemplary Practice in Earthquake Risk Reduction” Awards were given during the December 2nd Holiday Party for the chapter.   This year’s award recipients represent best practice examples of putting the science and engineering of earthquakes to work and demonstrate valuable contributions of our various disciplines and pursuits. They both embody the spirit of EERI.


The Honorable Jean Quan, Councilmember and Susan Piper, Policy Analyst in the City of Oakland

Susan Piper, 2010 Award Receipient, and Chapter President Tom Tobin

Susan Piper, 2010 Award Receipient, and Chapter President Tom Tobin

The City of Oakland, under the leadership of Councilwoman Jean Quan and Policy Analyst Susan Piper, has repeatedly demonstrated exemplary practices that improve earthquake safety.

Most recently, the City collaborated with volunteers from EERI and SEAONC to inventory older apartment buildings that are most likely to have soft stories such that they may be vulnerable to collapse in earthquakes. The survey found 1,400 buildings that may have soft stories in the City. These buildings have more than 24,000 housing units. In July 2009, Oakland enacted a mandatory seismic screening ordinance for these buildings and is now considering next steps to more effectively manage and reduce this risk.

Oakland also enacted an innovative Homeowner’s Voluntary Seismic Safety Incentive Ordinance. As of September 2009, 369 homeowners have taken out building permits for seismic retrofits as a result of this new law. The ordinance enables Oakland to lower fees and provide up to $5,000 per home to help owners dramatically offset the costs of the retrofits. Oakland is financing this program despite difficult economic conditions with a $500,000 allocation from its Real Estate Property Transfer Taxes.

The Northern California Chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute would like to recognize and draw attention to the extraordinary efforts lead by Councilwoman Jean Quan and Policy Analyst Susan Piper in the City of Oakland since they provide excellent examples for other cities and counties in Northern California to follow.

San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association (SPUR)

Sarah Karlinsky and Chris Poland, 2010 Award Receipients, with Chapter President Tom Tobin

Sarah Karlinsky and Chris Poland, 2010 Award Receipients, with Chapter President Tom Tobin

SPUR was formed in 1959 to promote the revitalization of San Francisco. Throughout the 1960s, SPUR worked to build support for land use, transportation, and investment strategies that could support growth and urban economic vitality. Since 2004, SPUR has focused their attention on disaster planning through the concept of a “resilient city.”

As part of this concept, SPUR has established a policy where they have set out clear goals for disaster recovery, recommended policy steps including retrofitting the most vulnerable structures, upgrading the building code to insure new buildings are built better, and forming a lifelines council to help coordinate upgrades to critical utility systems. SPUR has established a “Before the Disaster” task force to focus on what should be done now before the disaster to allow a quick recovery following the next disaster. SPUR has been developing strategies to rebuild the City over not just the days and weeks following a disaster but also over the months and years following a disaster. SPUR has recommended several steps towards creating a culture of preparedness, including strengthening the City’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) program.

Chris Poland is co-chair of the Disaster Planning Committee and SPUR Board member has been a force behind SPUR’s disaster planning programs. Sarah Karlinsky is SPUR’s Deputy Director.  The Northern California Chapter of Earthquake Engineering Research Institute would like to recognize SPUR for its leadership in preparing San Francisco for the next big earthquake.

2009 Nominating Committee:  Ivan Wong, Keith Knudsen, Marguerite Bello, and Fred Turner

EERI Northern California Chapter | c/o EERI National | 499 14th Street Suite 320 | Oakland, CA 94612-1934 USA | chapterinfo@eerinc.org