Seismic Retrofit Ordinance – It’s The (new) Law
Many of you may recall the Northridge Earthquake of 1994 as the last time our homes in Southern California were severely damaged in one of the most costliest natural disasters.
Last year the city adopted an ambitious law that requires nearly 15,000 buildings across Los Angeles to be retrofitted. The law caps decades of efforts to strengthen two types of older buildings that proved deadly in past earthquakes: brittle concrete buildings that dot L.A.’s major boulevards and wood-frame apartment complexes with weak first floors. About 65 people died when these types of buildings collapsed during earthquakes in 1971 and 1994.
Cost sharing of this high cost retrofit was a heated debate last year, and thus the City Council paid close attention to the many voices and reached a middle ground solution, allowing owners to pass up to half the costs of capital improvements (i.e. the retrofit) to tenants through rent increases over a ten year period. The pass through is capped at around $38 per month. This was a prerequisite for the City Council to approve the retrofit ordinance (ordinance 183893), which they did unanimously in the fall of 2015.
Two categories of buildings fall under the ordinance, wood-framed soft story and non-ductile concrete buildings. If given a notice from the City that your building falls under the ordinance, you have dictated time frames to submit plans and then complete the retrofit.
For specific details on the ordinance’s application, refer to the ordinance 183893 and the amending ordinance 184081 or the City of LA’s Department of Building and Safety’s Mandatory Retrofit Program website.