The City of Santa Monica Seismic Retrofit Ordinance is Just Around the Corner!Feb 24 2017 · 0 comments · Nishkian Chamberlain, Seismic ·0
Since the passing of the LA City’s Ordinance in October of 2015 to improve the seismic safety and community resilience of the City by requiring retrofit of over 15,000 soft story and non-ductile concrete buildings, the City of Santa Monica (approximately 16 miles west of LA) appears to be the next major city to adopt a similar but more expansive building type ordinance.
The Santa Monica City Council, on February 14, 2017, tentatively approved, unanimously, to adopt the nation’s most extensive seismic retrofitting effort, which could require safety improvements to as many as 2,000 earthquake-vulnerable buildings. For the ordinance to be approved, the City Council will need to pass the law a second time in the next month. If the measure receives that affirmation, the proposal will become law 30 days later.
Santa Monica’s safety rules would go beyond what Los Angeles has done by requiring not only wood-frame apartments and concrete buildings to be retrofitted, but also Concrete Tilt-Up, Unreinforced Masonry and Steel-frame structures.
Of the roughly 2,040 buildings, about 1,700 of them are suspected to be wooden apartment buildings with carports on the ground floor, known as soft-story buildings, one such complex collapsed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, killing 16 people on the ground floor in the predawn darkness.
About 200 are suspected vulnerable brick buildings, also known as unreinforced masonry, in which bricks can come spilling out of walls, striking occupants and passersby and triggering the collapse of the roof. 60 suspected brittle concrete buildings were listed, holding residences, hotel rooms and office space. 30 Concrete Tilt-up buildings susceptible to failure at interconnection between the roof and the wall could cause the wall to pull away from the building resulting collapse of the roof. And finally, 80 steel moment-frame buildings, with the tallest a 13-story condominium and two 12-story office buildings, that could be vulnerable in an earthquake.
Santa Monica’s proposed law gives owners of steel buildings the most time to retrofit once an order is given to evaluate the structure — 20 years. Brittle concrete buildings will have a deadline of 10 years; wooden apartment buildings, six years; tilt-ups, three years; and brick buildings, two years.
Other Southern California cities are also looking to strengthen their seismic safety laws. West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are both considering mandatory retrofit laws, and elected leaders are now casting the issue as not one of cost, but of public safety. Stricter retrofit ordinances are also becoming law up and down the west coast.
Nishkian Chamberlain has extensive experience in seismic retrofit projects and is currently working with building owners to assist in identifying the impact that retrofitting in accordance with the City Ordinances will have on their building assets. We are currently working as part of an advisory council to evaluate 50 of 200 buildings for one client that is proactively looking to understand the vulnerability of their portfolio.
Should you need the assistance of a trusted advisor to guide you through the uncertainty of the City Ordinances and provide cost effective, creative seismic retrofit solutions, contact Craig Chamberlain at CChamberlain@nishkian.com. You can also go to our website at www.nishkian.com to connect with any one of our offices in your region.