Which SF neighborhood is safest with respect to earthquakes?
May 17, 2007 4:21 PM   Subscribe

MovingtoSF-filter: Which San Francisco neighborhoods are more resilient [for a lack of a better term] to earthquakes? Marina, for example, is built on trash so it is probably not the safest. Looking to stay within San Francisco proper, close to downtown preferably.
posted by ngn01 to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
USGS seismic risk maps.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:31 PM on May 17, 2007

Also, Earthquake Hazard Maps. Generally, you want to live on bedrock - for instance, Potrero Hill will probably not suffer as much as the Marina. Y(earthquake)MMV.
posted by rtha at 4:34 PM on May 17, 2007

Telegraph Hill is a solid chunk of rock. Hope you're wealthy. :)
posted by symphonik at 4:52 PM on May 17, 2007

I attended a forum about SF's earthquake readiness, and something that either the fire chief or a building official pointed out was that architecture matters, too. Much of the city's buildings aren't retrofitted, or designed well to withstand earthquakes. He specifically mentioned the Richmond and Sunset districts, where a lot of buildings have "empty space" on the ground floor -- big restaurants or garages -- that don't provide any support for the floors above.

So, I'd avoid buildings like those, too, no matter where in the city you are.
posted by occhiblu at 5:07 PM on May 17, 2007

Yeah, do consider the architecture as much, if not more than the ground on which it is built. A crappy house can still slide down a hill of bedrock. Many buildings throughout the city (not just in the Richmond and Sunset) has been "renovated" to allow for a secondary unit in the former garage or basement. To do this, they removed structural support to provide a clear space, without considering the devastating effect that this could have in the case of an earthquake. (This is generally only true in projects done years ago or in projects done without permits). Look out for unreinforced masonry buildings, which are the older masonry (usually brick) buildings that you can identify by the bolts on the facade.

Also, a pitch to get involved with your local Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT). being prepared and knowing a bit about how to respond to an earthquake are just as important as being in the right neighborhood or building.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:20 PM on May 17, 2007

Seconding NERT - it was a great introduction to disaster preparedness generally. It's important to remember that you're just as likely to be at work or in your car or at the movies as you are to be at home when a quake hits, so your residential neighborhood may or may not matter for your personal safety. And there are other factors too - when I mentioned to my local fire chief at NERT training that I was probably safe on bedrock up on Twin Peaks, she said "Sure, as long as there's no fire from ruptured gas lines or something, because there's a huge chimney effect with the wind up there and we'd never get it out on time." Oh well.
posted by judith at 10:54 PM on May 17, 2007

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