WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR SOFT-STORY RETROFIT LAWS
A recent survey* of Los Angeles residents conducted in March 2023, showed that more than 8 in 10 L.A. residents back the City’s mandatory earthquake retrofitting law, which targets vulnerable apartment buildings that have weak wood-framed open spaces on their first or second floors, instead of walls that are typically required as part of a stable earthquake engineering design (an example is an apartment building’s “tuck-under” parking garage structure). Such buildings must be retrofitted as they can be critically damaged from the forces of seismic activity.
UPDATE ON LA SOFT STORY RETROFIT COMPLETION RATE
In fact, as of this year, of the more than 12,400 buildings within the Los Angeles city limits that have such weak first stories, more than 8,600 have already been retrofitted, which is a completion rate of 69%. A report released in October 2023 stated that the cost of those retrofits likely came to more than $1.3 billion.
However, progress has been much slower in retrofitting what are called “non-ductile” concrete buildings. In such buildings, the configuration of steel reinforcing bars within their concrete frames is inadequate, and may cause the concrete to explode out of its columns when shaken, triggering a catastrophic collapse. A recent U.S. Geological Survey simulation said that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Southern California could cause 50 such buildings to fully or partially collapse, killing as many as 7,500 people inside. The City of Los Angeles has more than 1,300 such buildings.
NOTIFICATIONS OF SOFT STORY RETROFIT VIOLATIONS ARE GOING OUT NOW!
At Weinstein Construction, we have recently received urgent calls from commercial property owners who have been notified by mail by the City of Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney that they have violated the L.A. Municipal Code Section 12.21A1a with respect to their mandatory compliance with the City of Los Angeles Soft Story ordinances.
These property owners have now been scheduled for a hearing at the City Attorney’s office in order for them to comment on the allegations that they have violated the City codes. As such violations constitute a criminal offense, the property owners were advised to forward the letter they received to their attorney. Importantly, their failure to comply with the hearing may result in further legal action taken against them.
So, what is the lesson to be learned here? If you are the owner of a Soft Story building, don’t take lightly your responsibility to retrofit your property as per the City of Los Angeles’ mandatory Soft Story retrofit ordinances! If you don’t comply, you may get such a violation letter yourself, instructing you and your lawyers to appear before a hearing officer at the Office of the City Attorney!
You know that there is an urgent need to retrofit your Soft Story property and safeguard it from the destructive forces of earthquakes! You should prepare today for the real and very imminent threat of seismic activity and take steps to avoid receiving a violation notice in the mail, which will require you to obtain legal counsel and defend yourself before the City Attorney! To schedule a free soft story inspection of your home or Soft Story building, Call Weinstein Construction at 818-717-7020.
* Adapted from, “When it comes to earthquakes, Republicans and Democrats agree on L.A. retrofitting, poll finds”, The Los Angeles Times, Rong-Gong Lin II, March 22, 2023.