14 Percent of Soft-Story Structures in L.A. Now Comply With Seismic Retrofit Law, Zero Progress on Concrete Buildings

Posted April 19, 2019, under Blog

Since 2015, 14 percent of the soft-story structures in Los Angeles are now compliant with seismic retrofit law.

While this is great news for residents in these vulnerable structures, there has been zero progress in seismic retrofits for concrete structures.

Mayor Eric Garcetti signed the ordinance into legislation in 2015 – making it the strictest earthquake safety regulations in the country.

The seismic retrofit law gives building owners of these vulnerable structures 7 years to retrofit soft story buildings and 25 years to retrofit concrete buildings, with specific benchmarks and milestones that must be met along the way.

Because several active fault lines run throughout Los Angeles and the state of California, the measure is meant to strengthen buildings in the city and state to sustain the shaking from a large earthquake.

Soft story buildings suffered the most damage and destruction during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake because these multi-apartment buildings were constructed with a weak lower floor, thus making them more susceptible to collapse with extreme shaking.

Many of these weak buildings were built before 1977, and lack modern structural reinforcements that new buildings come equipped with today.

L.A. has been working with building owners to assist with the costs to retrofit these buildings. With programs focusing on the “cost recovery” for owners.

In L.A., once a seismic retrofit has been completed, a building owner can recover up to 50% of the cost thanks to the city’s Seismic Retrofit Program.

It’s essential that building owners of these soft story and concrete structures complete these seismic retrofits as soon as possible. New data released by the USGS found that California’s “earthquake drought” is likely to come to an end in the next decade – meaning we can expect multiple, large earthquakes throughout the state.

As we head into this next period of (anticipated) increased earthquake activity, it’s important as a California resident, to take the proper precautions for earthquake survival and safety.

In addition to keeping an earthquake survival kit in your home, it’s essential to be proactive about earthquake preparedness and have your properties retrofitted for seismic safety.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation contractors,earthquake retrofitting, and foundation repair. Julian’s company, Julian Construction, has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair and earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.

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