New Research to Inform Earthquake Design of Tall Buildings

On Thursday, March 22, SDCI and the US Geological Survey (USGS) hosted a workshop to determine how to account for higher earthquake motions due to the Seattle Basin and the Cascadia Subduction Zone when designing tall buildings (over 240 feet). The invited workshop participants included some of the premier seismologists in the country, researchers from the UW working on the M9 project ( , local geotechnical and structural engineers from the consulting community and the City of Bellevue, and SDCI staff. The workshop participants spent a full day reviewing current geotechnical seismic practice, presenting recent research on measured and calculated models of seismic basin response, learning about the effect of higher earthquake motions on structural design practice, and developing a consensus for the short term and longer term. This workshop is a follow-up to a workshop hosted by SDCI and the USGS in 2013 (

The consensus recommendations will slightly increase the earthquake forces for which tall buildings are designed in Seattle. The lead USGS seismologist said after the meeting that this is the only place in the country where researchers from academia, practicing engineers, and city government come together to understand each other’s perspectives and to develop solutions considering recent research for safer building design.

For more information, contact:

Susan Chang
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections

Don’t Miss the South Seattle Home Fair!

You’re invited to a South Seattle Home Fair on February 10, 2018, hosted by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. Are you planning a remodeling project? Ask us about our permitting process, inspections, and codes requirements. Do you rent, or are you a landlord? Come ask about rental housing rules. We’ll also have information tables about affordable housing, landslide awareness, emergency preparedness, energy rebates, home ownership assistance, weatherization of homes, and much, much more!

Whether you’re a homeowner, landlord, renter, or potential homeowner, this event has something for you.

Saturday, February 10, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Filipino Community Center
5740 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
(The Filipino Community Center is ADA accessible.)


RSVP here. RSVPs are not required, but are appreciated.

We’ll have information tables where you can ask an expert your questions and get advice about your project or about available services. We’ll also have three presentations:

  • 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. – Earthquake Retrofit (protect your home in case of an earthquake)
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Landslide Awareness (learn how to prevent landslides on your property)
  • 12:45 – 1:45 p.m. – Backyard Cottages / Accessory Dwelling Units (what you need to know about planning your project and getting a permit)


You’ll have an opportunity to learn about:

  • Affordable housing
  • Building and residential codes
  • Building, electrical, boiler, and mechanical inspections
  • Building permits
  • Community tool library
  • Emergency information
  • Energy rebates
  • Home ownership assistance
  • Land use rules
  • Landslide awareness
  • Metro transit projects
  • RainWise information
  • Rental housing rules
  • Tree protection rules
  • Weatherization of homes

Other City departments and local organizations will also be available to answer questions.

  • HomeSightwill provide information about Prepurchase Education classes, Homeownership Counseling, First mortgage lending for refinance, and purchase and down payment assistance.
  • Homestead Community Land Trust will provide a program description of their Permanent Affordable Housing model, including eligibility guidelines and resources to get started on the homebuyer process. HCLT staff will be able to answer questions about the Community Land Trust model, ways to get involved in permanent affordable housing advocacy, and much more.
  • King County Metro Transit will provide information about their projects and available services.
  • Office of Housing will provide information about their Homewise Weatherization and Home Repair Loan programs. The HomeWise Weatherization Program provides FREE energy efficiency improvements to qualified homes, increasing comfort and saving money. The Home Repair Loan Program provides affordable loans to income-qualified homeowners to address critical health, safety, and structural issues. The program is designed for owner-occupied, single family homes with low- to moderate-income households.
  • RainWise will help you find out if you are eligible to get a rebate from Seattle Public Utilities and King County for up to 100 percent of the cost of installing a rain garden or cistern on your property. RainWise staff will talk about rain gardens and cisterns, discuss the rebate process, and connect you with trained RainWise contractors. This table will have rain garden planting guides, visual tours of rain garden and cistern installations, maintenance guides, contractor contact lists, and information on low-income grants and funding.
  • Rebuilding Together Seattleis a nonprofit that provides free health- and safety-focused home repairs for low income homeowners. They will answer any questions about their program and will have applications and information available at their table.
  • Seattle City Lightwill have information about energy-saving tips, available rebates for your home, and how to buy the right LED bulb and take advantage of in-store instant discounts on LEDs.
  • The Seattle Hubstable will be staffed by Rainer Beach Ready volunteers who will describe how the Emergency Communications Hubs function, where the Rainier Beach Hub is located and have quick tips and multi-language brochures on how to be prepared and communicate during an emergency, as well as information on establishing new hubs in other South Seattle neighborhoods.
  • Seattle Public Utilities will be on-site to provide information and tools for recycling, composting, and reducing waste.
  • The Southeast Seattle Tool Library will present some fascinating facts about the tool collection and the interesting projects the tools have inspired at this community lending library.


For more information about the South Seattle Home Fair, contact:

Moon Callison
(206) 615-1486


Quicker Permitting Options for Voluntary Seismic Upgrades in Single Family Homes

SDCI is now permitting voluntary seismic upgrades designed by an engineer as a Subject-to-Field-Inspection (STFI) permit. This quicker permitting option is only available for single-family homes.  We require plan review for engineered earthquake home retrofit permits for buildings with multiple dwelling units or commercial spaces. We issue STFI permits over the counter on the day you apply if you apply in person, or within a few days if you apply electronically. Your plans will need to be stamped by an engineer, and include a location plan, foundation and framing plan, structural notes, and structural details designed by an engineer.

Earthquake Home Retrofit Permits, also known as Project Impact, are different from an engineered voluntary seismic upgrade. They use prescriptive plan sets, eliminating the need to hire a design professional to develop drawings. For an Earthquake Home Retrofit Permit, you can submit your plans as soon as you finish them. You do not need to schedule an intake appointment. We usually do our initial review of Earthquake Home Retrofit Permits in two weeks.

See our updated Earthquake Home Retrofit Permit webpage for more details.

If you have questions, please contact:

Jamie Anderson
(206) 615-0715