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RE: OMF Connection Design - Force limit

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>The idea of forcing inelastic deformation to occur in a
>predetermined location has great benefits.  Using the
>footing as a limiting factor may be expedient, but is it
>an answer that will work when the big one hits?
Good question, Jake.
The fuse approach inherent in the defined systems in the AISC Seismic Provisions and most other such documents provides more cushion on the balance than a foundation-uplift-exempted system. But how much more is undefined and perhaps not an absolute truth for every example of which one could think.
I was once told (only partly in jest as I came to learn) that all bets are off if the ground motion actually exceeds the design levels. I think this is true no matter what system or material is being considered. As always, it is probably more important to have a good engineer who understands what he or she is doing with the approach chosen.