This is a great article that explains in simple, clear language the dangers of many wood frame, soft story buildings. What is a soft story? A soft story building is a multi-story building in which one or more floors have windows, wide doors, large unobstructed commercial spaces, or other openings in places where a shear wall would normally be required for stability as a matter of earthquake engineering design.
In other words lots of open space on the first floor, supporting all of the weight of the building. Soft story wood frame buildings don’t do well in earthquakes.
If you are in earthquake country or you do planning for those who are, read this. The video shows clearly what happens to these structures with ground shaking. Very instructive and helpful.