Los Angeles is one of the most earthquake-prone cities in the United States. Soft story buildings, which have a weak first story that can collapse during an earthquake, are particularly vulnerable. If you own or manage a soft story building in Los Angeles, it’s important to know about the city’s mandatory Soft Story Retrofitting Program. This program requires property owners to seismically retrofit their buildings to make them more resistant to earthquakes. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of the Soft Story Retrofitting Program and answer some common questions about it.
What is Soft Story Retrofitting?
Soft story retrofitting is the process of strengthening a building’s first story to make it more resistant to earthquakes. This can be done by adding bracing, shear walls, or other structural elements to the first story. Soft story retrofitting is typically required for buildings that have large openings on the first story, such as garages, tuck-under parking, or retail storefronts. These openings make the first story weaker and more likely to collapse during an earthquake.
Why is Soft Story Retrofitting Required in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles has a long history of earthquakes, and soft story buildings are particularly vulnerable to damage during these events. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, for example, more than 60% of the buildings that were damaged or destroyed were soft story buildings. To help protect building occupants and reduce damage during future earthquakes, the City of Los Angeles adopted a Soft Story Retrofitting Ordinance in 2015. This ordinance requires property owners to seismically retrofit their soft story buildings.
What Are the Requirements of the Soft Story Retrofitting Ordinance?
The Soft Story Retrofitting Ordinance requires property owners to retrofit their buildings to meet certain seismic standards. The specific requirements depend on the type of building, its height, and when it was built. Buildings that were constructed before 1978 generally have to meet a higher standard than newer buildings. Property owners have up to seven years to complete the retrofitting work, though they may be able to get an extension if they meet certain conditions.
How Much Does Soft Story Retrofitting Cost?
The cost of soft story retrofitting varies depending on the size and type of building. For a typical apartment building, the cost is typically $50,000 to $100,000. The city offers some financial assistance for property owners who need to retrofit their buildings. For more information, you can visit the Soft Story Retrofitting Financial Assistance page on the city’s website.
What Are the Consequences of Not Retrofitting a Soft Story Building?
If you don’t retrofit your soft story building, you may be subject to fines, legal action, or forced relocation. In addition, your building may not be eligible for earthquake insurance. And if there is an earthquake and your building is not properly retrofitted, it could collapse and cause injuries or even deaths.
If you have any questions about the Soft Story Retrofitting Program, or if you need help retrofitting your building, contact Retrofitting360 at (213) 261-8883. We’re a licensed engineering firm that specializes in soft story retrofits and we can help you comply with the ordinance. We offer free consultations and we’re happy to answer any questions you have. So don’t wait, call us today and let us help you retrofit your building. Soft story retrofitting is an important investment in the safety of your building and its occupants, so don’t delay, contact Retrofitting360 today.