San Francisco imposes inspections on new high-rises after stormy weather

San Francisco window damage (Photo: SF Dept. of Building Inspection350 Mission Street -Salesforce East)

After winter storms caused windows to fall from numerous San Francisco high-rises, the city is requiring new skyscrapers to undergo building inspections.

Announced by Mayor London Breed on Tuesday, the city's Department of Building Inspection will assess all facade elements in tall buildings built after 1998. 

"This is an important step we are taking to ensure the safety of all of our buildings to keep our residents safe," Breed said.

Previous city policy only required buildings to take part in the facade inspection program 30 years after it was built, but during intense wind and rain storms in March, three of the six buildings that experienced glass failures were less than 30 years old. 

Eligible owners of buildings 15 floors or higher will have to provide a professional evaluation of their entire building to ensure it is stable.

Images from KTVUs Sky Fox shows the aftermath of strong winds blowing out the window of a San Francisco high rise. 

Breed's emergency declaration set on March 27 allows the Department of Building Inspection to expand its facade inspection requirements to include 71 newer high-rises in the city. The hope is to find cracks and other malfunctions to prevent more glass failures from happening in the future.

"While we are endeavoring to understand what caused the recent window failures in half a dozen buildings downtown, this legislation will ensure all tall buildings are immediately inspected and made secure," board president Aaron Peskin said.

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Building owners will have six months to submit comprehensive evaluations. 

"This is a smart and straightforward evaluation that will give building owners additional insight so they can maintain their properties responsibly and help ensure the safety of our city," DBI director Patrick O'Riordan said. "We will officially inform building owners of the new requirement later this month."