When Santa Monica rolled out its Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program, it became the most intensive retrofit program in the country. They had over 2,000 buildings on their list of soft-story structures that needed to be updated to meet the new guidelines. Now their deadline is quickly approaching and only 400 properties on their list have completed the job.
But Los Angeles soft story retrofit companies, along with property owners, can breathe a sigh of relief. The city has introduced a new process to help simplify their complex law. These new guidelines went into effect back in February of 2018. They only apply to soft-story buildings and under these guidelines, less extensive reviews are required.
Why soft-story buildings are affected
Out of the 2,000 buildings on Santa Monica’s list of most vulnerable structures in an earthquake, 80% are soft-story buildings. Almost all of these are apartment complexes with weak first floors that are built over parking spaces or garages. With the purpose of the retrofit program being focused on preventing the loss of life in the event of a major earthquake, these structures are considered to be of the utmost importance to city officials.
How do these guidelines affect my property?
Santa Monica’s retrofit law released in March of 2017 included extensive paperwork as part of the retrofit process. One year later, they have now released these new guidelines to help speed up the process. This new process applies to both commercial and multi-family apartment buildings. One of the biggest reasons for doing this is many of the original deadlines are quickly approaching and no work is actually being done.
The first round of notices to comply were sent to about 400 property owners back in September of 2017. These owners were given until September or October of 2019 to meet the compliance report deadline. The first round of notices focused on buildings with more than two stories and 16, or less, residential units. Those retrofits were supposed to be completed by September or October 2023.
Deadlines for the other 1,600 properties on the list depend on how many floors they have, or residential units are occupied. These deadlines range from 2020 through the final date in 2024. The city is hoping that the simplified process will encourage more property owners to get the process started. Or at the very least, to hire the Los Angeles soft story retrofit company they want to do the work.
How the process has been simplified
The new process simplifies the paperwork and application process that needs to be approved before any work can be done. They removed the requirement for the review by the City Planning and/or Mobility Division for most retrofit projects. Instead, this step will be handled at the same time as the regular Plan Check is reviewed. The supplemental application now includes a list of questions that will help city planners to decide if the project qualifies for an exemption to the plan check review.
City officials have also created a new, simplified application for apartment owners. Instead of filling out the previous long-form, owners only need to sign the Soft-Story Means & Methods form which states that they “acknowledge the tenant protections during construction and tenant relocation requirements”.
Has the city of Los Angeles adopted any new guidelines?
As of right now, the answer is no. but with so many of the deadlines rapidly approaching, there is a chance that city officials will come together to simplify the complicated paperwork involved in a soft-story retrofit. Of the 13,000 building on LA’s list of vulnerable structures, so far only about 40% have completed a seismic retrofit. That means that a lot more work needs to be done. If it is to be done by the deadline of 2022, a simpler process may need to be enacted.
Who we are
RetroFitting 360 is one of the leading Los Angeles soft-story retrofit companies. As a leading provider of soft-story earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles, our goal is to deliver a cost-effective and efficient construction solution. Our fully trained staff includes civil and architectural contractors that have the specialized training needed to modify the floor and site plans so they can be approved by the city in order to acquire the necessary permits
Our team at RetroFitting 360, Inc. will work with you throughout the process to make your soft-story retrofit process as painless as possible. Whether you received a notice to comply with the retrofit program, or you are just worried about your building’s foundation and have questions about the process, you can contact us to schedule a free evaluation of your property and find out more about our cost-effective solutions.