What Is A Soft-Story Retrofit?
LA Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance
Yesterday was the start of the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, known as “March Madness” to most basketball fans and casual observers alike. Sadly, my team, the California Golden Bears, didn’t make it to “The Dance” this year. Although on the other hand, at least that means I probably have a better chance of winning the office bracket pool, because I didn’t have to (foolishly) choose them to win the whole thing. Gonzaga is my choice, in case you are wondering…
Here at Precision Property Measurements, our As-Built surveying company in Long Beach, we have started to get some inquiries from local apartment building owners asking about the recently passed “Soft-Story” Retrofit Ordinance in Los Angeles. Understandably, a lot of folks are confused about the law, and unsure of what they need to do to comply. I guess you could say these apartment owners are feeling their own version of March Madness as they grapple with the implications of complying with this mandatory new ordinance.
The Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit program (Ordinance 183893 and 184081) is intended to reduce possible structural deficiencies in existing multi-story apartment buildings. These deficiencies could possibly result in major damage and injuries during or after an earthquake in Southern California. The ordinance follows an almost identical program passed by the city of San Francisco a few years ago. To qualify under the mandate, a building would need to meet the following criteria:
- Consist of 2 or more stories of wood frame construction
- Be built under building code standards enacted before January 1st, 1978
- Contain ground floor parking or other similar open floor space.
It is estimated that approximately 13,500 buildings in Los Angeles meet these criteria, and will likely need seismic strengthening under the Soft Story Ordinance. Starting in May of 2016, the city began sending Orders to Comply to the owners of these affected buildings. Based on the date that the Order to Company is received, the building owner must comply with the ordinance within the following time limits:
- Within 2 years: Submit proof or a previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish
- Within 3.5 years: Obtain permit to start construction or demolition
- Within 7 years: Complete construction
So for many apartment building owners, the clock is already ticking to comply with the Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance.
If you are a building owner of one or more of the targeted buildings, PPM can help. Through our Bay Area office, we have already been a trusted As-Built partner on over 100 Soft-Story Retrofit projects in San Francisco, so we are familiar with the process. We measure existing buildings and create “As-Built” drawings, which depict the existing conditions. As-Built plans are a required part of the permitting and inspection process. We also partner with several highly qualified Structural Engineering firms throughout Southern California, who can take a lead role in guiding you through the entire process including compliance, permitting, construction, etc…
Please CONTACT US if you want to learn more about how we can help. Now back to basketball!