In this post, you’ll find the top questions we frequently get from our new clients about the Soft Story Retrofit Program.

What is a Soft Story building?

It’s a structure with a weaker first level. This type of building is useless to carry the weight of the floors above during particularly strong seismic shifts, or as we commonly call them, earthquakes.

The first story generally has large openings in the perimeter walls such as tuck-under parking lots, floor-to-ceiling windows (retail stores), and other open spaces.

What is a retrofitting process?

In general terms, a retrofit refers to an improvement to the structure.

A Soft Story retrofitting process is essentially the modification of existing properties to make them more resistant to soil failure, seismic activity, or ground motion due to earthquakes.

What exactly is a tuck-under parking garage?

Parking lots located underneath the second floor. Majority of buildings constructed in the 1970s and 1980s have these types of lots.

What is the Soft Story retrofit program?

The mandatory Soft Story retrofit program is a part of Ordinance 183893.  It requires mandatory retrofitting of non-ductile buildings and wood-frame Soft Story buildings constructed before 1978.

What is the purpose of this program?

This mandatory Soft Story program helps minimize the risk of injury as well as loss of life. This is caused by particularly strong seismic movements on Soft Story properties. Essentially, this program is to make sure that the tragedy of Northridge Earthquake doesn’t repeat itself.

The retrofit program provides guidelines to the building owners to fortify and reinforce their buildings. This improves performance during seismic movements.

What is the scope of this program?

As per the ordinance passed by the City of Los Angeles, the retrofit program applies to all existing buildings which fulfill the following criteria:

  • 2 or more floors with wood frames
  • It was constructed under the building code standards laid down before January 1st, 1978
  • It has a tuck-under parking lot or similar open space on the first level.

#Exception: The Soft Story retrofit program doesn’t apply to residential buildings which have three or less units.

What’s the time limit to comply with this program?

Notify the department of a structural analysis or plan to take any of the following action within 2 years after the service date of the Order to Comply:

  • Retrofit the building
  • Dismantle the building
  • Evidence of a previous retrofit job on the building

You should obtain all permits within 3.5 years after the service date of the Order to Comply.

All the construction or demolition work should be completed and all the permits should be finalized within 7 years after the service date of the Order to Comply.

Have more questions? Call us at 888-690-1561 or get in touch with us here to schedule a free retrofitting consultation with our specialists today.