Los Angeles residents have been expecting “The Big One” for many years. For newcomers to the area, this refers to the next big earthquake to hit the area. After the damage done from the earthquake in 1994, city officials have been trying to find a way to minimize the damage and save lives in future quakes. In 2015, city officials passed Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081 to create standards for soft-story buildings that are most vulnerable during seismic activity. These ordinances are part of the Los Angeles Soft-Story Building Retrofit Program, which is mandatory for most property owners.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Building Safety have been assessing the city in order to decide which structures would be the most vulnerable when a major earthquake strikes. After two years, they have compiled a list of over 13,000 buildings that meet their criteria. The deadline for the Soft-Story Retrofit Program states that owners have until the year 2022 to have their retrofit completed. Most of the buildings on this list are large apartment complexes with tuck-under parking spaces, these features are commonly found in soft-story buildings.
If you don’t know what makes up a soft-story building, here is the basic definition. Any building with three or more stories that have a ground floor with a large open space, like a parking garage, qualifies. These unobstructed spaces do not have a shear wall which makes them very unstable during an earthquake. The upper floors tend to collapse down on top of themselves and once this happens the building cannot be repaired.
A large number of apartment buildings in Los Angeles were built after World War ll, when the city saw rapid expansion. But the designs and materials during that time were not what they are today. Technology has advanced both the quality and durability of the materials used, as well as the construction technique found in most retrofits. Any building constructed between 1950 and 1980, does not meet the new seismic ordinances and will need to be retrofitted in order to be safer when the next earthquake hits.
The process for completing an earthquake retrofit isn’t too difficult to understand, however it does take a fair amount of time. You will need to find a qualified seismic engineer to inspect your building and determine what areas need to be updated. Finding the right company that specializes in soft-story retrofits will save you time, money and a lot of headaches. RetroFitting 360 has professional engineers and contractors on staff who will guide you through the whole process. The will handle everything from the initial inspection, to obtaining permits, to making sure your property passes the city inspection at the end.
If you did not receive a notice from the city and want to know if you should consider a Los Angeles Soft-Story Building Retrofit, contact RetroFitting 360 today. One of our experienced staff members will schedule a free consultation for you to ask any questions you have.