State and Local Southern California Governmental Seismic Resiliency UpdatesMar 21 2018 · 0 comments · Nishkian Chamberlain, Seismic ·0
Remember the destruction that occurred in 1994 when Northridge suffered a devastating 6.7-magnitude earthquake: freeways crumbled, apartment buildings collapsed and, as a result, more than 60 people were killed, 9,000 people injured and $25 billion in damage was reported. It’s a lesser-known fact that an estimated 49,000 housing units in Northridge alone were rendered uninhabitable from the Northridge quake.
With Southern California already in a housing crunch, the prospect of losing a significant number of housing units in another significant earthquake can stifle a community and reap disaster for its citizens. That’s why there are an increasing number of cities throughout Southern and Northern California adopting ordinances designed to not only save lives, but to protect the infrastructure that provides their constituencies with a place to work and live.There are two Assembly Bills introduced in the California Legislature by Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian in January of this year.
Assembly Bill No. 1857, requires “engineered buildings to be built to an immediate occupancy standard regarding seismic safety. Until an immediate occupancy standard is adopted, the California Building Standards commission shall adopt … a strength and stiffness standard for engineered buildings that is one and one-half times the level of the current standard.” For the purposes of the bill “engineered building” refers to any building that requires design by a registered engineering professional. You can read the full text of the bill here. The passage of this bill could mean that higher seismic performance requirements will increase the construction cost of most buildings. The magnitude of the added cost may vary from building to building but some reports are noting the added cost to be in the 1-10% range.
Assembly Bill No. 2681, enacts a law to establish a program within all cities and all counties and portions thereof located within seismic zone 4 (most of California Coast), to identify all potentially hazardous buildings and to establish a mitigation program for these buildings. The mitigation program may include, among other things, the adoption by ordinance of a hazardous buildings program, measures to strengthen buildings, and the application of structural standards necessary to provide for life safety above current code requirements. This bill would require each building department of a city or county to create an inventory of potentially vulnerable buildings. The bill would require the owner of a building identified by a building department as a potentially vulnerable building to retain a licensed professional engineer to identify whether the building meets the definition of a potentially vulnerable building. You can read the full text of the bill here.
The city of Beverly Hills does not currently mandate the retrofit of wood-frame soft-story buildings; however, work is underway to develop a seismic retrofit program. The intent of the program is to reduce the risk of earthquake-related damage and promote life safety in the city’s commercial and multifamily buildings. Click here for information on the program’s progress and key dates. Visual field survey and permit records research have been performed to identify approximately 300 buildings in Beverly Hills which may be impacted by the intended ordinance. To date, there has been no timeline established for the creation of the ordinance or for notification to building owners.
The city of Burbank has established three mandatory programs that affect commercial construction only. At this time, the ordinance affecting light wood-framed residential construction is voluntary. The requirements are located in Burbank Municipal Code Title 9, Chapter 1, Article 7. The mandatory sections included retrofit requirements for Unreinforced Masonry Buildings, Reinforced Concrete & Masonry Buildings and Welded Steel Moment Frame Buildings. Click here for information on the program’s progress and key dates. The city of Burbank has established the ordinance affecting light wood-framed residential construction on a voluntary basis. Therefore, there are no deadlines for compliance. However, it is recommended that the provisions outlined in the municipal code be complied with in a timely manner to promote public welfare and safety by reducing earthquake-related damage of at-risk existing concrete structures.
The city of Long Beach does not currently mandate the retrofit of wood-frame soft-story or non-ductile concrete buildings; however, work is underway to develop a Building Resiliency Program. The intent of the program is to reduce the risk of earthquake-related damage and promote life safety in the city’s commercial and multifamily buildings. The city of Long Beach currently has a voluntary program in place for the retrofit of existing wood-frame residential buildings with soft, weak, or open front walls. The voluntary program also includes reinforced concrete or masonry buildings with flexible diaphragms (tilt-up), non-ductile concrete buildings, and concrete frame buildings with masonry infills. It is anticipated that the voluntary soft-story retrofit program (Chapter 18.70 of the Long Beach Building Standards Code) and voluntary non-ductile concrete building retrofit program (Chapter 18.71 of the Long Beach Building Standards Code) will be replaced by the proposed Building Resiliency Program.
The city of West Hollywood formally adopted a seismic retrofit program on April 17, 2017. The program is intended to reduce the risk of earthquake-related damage and ensure life safety in the city’s commercial and multifamily buildings. Ordinance 17-1004 establishes the mandatory provisions for strengthening existing wood-frame buildings with soft, weak, or open-front walls. The ordinance also contains provisions for cripple walls and sill plate anchorage in existing wood-frame buildings. The ordinance will become effective on April 1, 2018. Ordinance 17-1011 establishes the mandatory provisions for strengthening non-ductile concrete structures. The ordinance also contains provisions for buildings constructed with pre-Northridge steel moment frames. The ordinance has an effective date of August 7, 2018. Click here for information on the program’s priority designations and key dates.
If you have questions about the requirements under the law, the retrofit process or general questions regarding your building, we encourage you to contact us for an evaluation.