Seismic Retrofit Blog

Jun
28
Soft-Story Retrofit | Los Angeles Retrofit Deadlines

 


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If you own a soft-story building in Southern California then you are well aware that the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood legally require seismic retrofits for soft-story buildings. The distinctive design of tuck-in parking on the ground floor makes soft-story buildings especially vulnerable during seismic activity, making them prone to collapse. The first kind of soft-story retrofit ordinance was passed by the city of Los Angeles in 2015, Santa Monica quickly followed suit in 2016, and West Hollywood joined the efforts in 2017. This year both Beverly Hills and Pasadena have begun to count how many at-risk buildings can be identified within their municipalities.


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Jun
28
Pasadena Approves Seismic Retrofit Ordinance


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Ordinance No. 7345 passes First & Second Reading.




California is the land of many faults, earthquake faults that is. That's why so many cities in Southern California have recently passed local ordinances to require the seismic retrofit of vulnerable "soft story" apartment buildings. We now have another city that has navigated the gauntlet of public scrutiny and passed a mandatory earthquake retrofit ordinance, the city council of Pasadena officially adopted Ordinance 7345 on May 20, 2019. The ordinance is set to go into effect on June 24, 2019. Pasadena joins the city of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood in passing a seismic retrofit ordinance. These types of laws stir up controv...


Jun
13
Making Soft Story Buildings Perform: What about more lumber?


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Adding more lumber is the key.




Adding more lumber is the key.


It’s been four years since the Los Angeles City Council passed Ordinance 183893 back in 2015, and since then thousands of apartment buildings have been retrofitted. Since then my team has only retrofitted a handful of buildings in West LA, but I’ve seen over 100 sets of plans to bid on and frankly, some of them do not pass muster. While all of these plans include the use of heavy structural steel, the majority of them do not include the use of diaphragm framing or the addition of lumber to reinforce the existing wood-frame.




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Seismic Retrofit Project in West Los Angeles





In this article, I want to cover some technical ...


Mar
07
Soft Story Retrofit Mistakes | Doing the Bare Minimum


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What are the biggest mistakes contractors, engineers, and building owners make on their retrofit project?





Soft Story Retrofit Mistakes in Los Angeles


What are the biggest mistakes people make when dealing with soft-story buildings? They try to solve the wrong problem – But How? When the city of Los Angeles passed ordinance 183893 and 184081 to require seismic retrofit for older buildings with ‘tuck in’ parking, many property owners described it as an “unreasonable burden”.



Property owners think that they have a ‘compliance problem’ and that they must comply with the retrofit ordinance, when in fact they have a ‘health and safety problem’...


Mar
04
Soft Story Retrofit: Seismic Ordinances Might Get Tougher in 2019




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Ordinances Might Get Tougher in 2019.




The entire soft-story retrofit process is long, complex, and involves several people. You’ll encounter structural engineers, draftsmen, city engineers, city clerks, general contractors, and other construction professionals. As a professional general contractor, I’ve made the commitment to give all my customers the best service in Southern California, and in order to do so I’ve attended several seminars and symposiums. This week I want to share the experience I had this summer at the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) Convention in beautiful Palm Desert, CA. SEAOC is the premiere professional association for struct...


Mar
04
Finding a Trustworthy Soft-Story Retrofit Contractor


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The Soft-Story retrofit boom is attracting some shady folks!




The soft-story retrofit programs of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood are well underway and property owners are now in a rush to meet deadlines. Hiring a contractor is hard enough, but finding a reputable soft-story contractor is becoming a bit more difficult



Are you afraid your seismic retrofit is going to be too expensive? Have you developed some anxiety about how much your soft-story retrofit is going to cost? I am not just talking about the cost of retrofit engineering plans, I am talking about construction costs. In the past two years, I have spoken to hundreds of property owners from Los Angeles and Santa Monica ...


Mar
04
Soft-Story Retrofit | Is My Building on a Fault Line?


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There are thousands of high-density apartment buildings across the City of Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods. Unfortunately, most apartment buildings built before 1980 have a soft story design that will require some sort of earthquake retrofit. This is important because Southern California averages more than 100 earthquakes annually, according to the US Geological Survey. The City of Los Angeles passed Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081 in 2015 to require all qualifying soft-story buildings to be retrofitted to meet new seismic guidelines.


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(Source: California Geological Survey via Los Angeles Times)

Soft Stories and Fault Lines


The very first question you might have is “Wha...


Nov
14
Could My Soft-Story Building Collapse During an Earthquake?



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(Collapsed Buildings after the Northridge Earthquake)



If you look around a typical Los Angeles neighborhood, there’s no doubt you will find a soft-story building. Soft-Story buildings are easy to identify because they feature tuck under parking (this is parking that is below raised parts of the structure), a popular design for apartment buildings. This type of apartment building design is prone to structural failure and collapse during earthquakes if not built to modern building code.



The Los Angeles Department of Building Safety recently identified 13,500 apartments that will require some type of seismic retrofit as part of the LADBS Soft-Story Retrofit Program. The mandatory progra...


Nov
07
Soft-Story Retrofit | Does My Building Need a Retrofit?


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Seismic activity in Los Angeles is nothing new, Southern California has been expecting “The Big One” for years. It’s something that Californians have to deal with, but in 2015 the City of Los Angeles passed Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081 to establish mandatory standards for soft-story buildings that are considered at risk of structural failure during an earthquake.


The purpose of these ordinances is to promote public safety and reduce structural deficiencies caused by earthquakes in the most economical and feasible methods The City of Los Angeles Department of Building Safety, (LADBS), spent over two years compiling a list of soft-story buildings that will need som...


Nov
07
Los Angeles Soft-Story Retrofit | What is a Soft Story Building?


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Soft story retrofitting in Los Angeles and Santa Monica are not just recommended, they are required by Law! Soft-Story Retrofit Pros has been a California licensed contractor for more than 15 years. We pride ourselves as your best resource when wanting to learn more about soft-story retrofits. Our team has published several articles about retrofitting in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood. The city of Los Angeles now has the nations largest retrofit program. The program began when the Los Angeles City Council passed Ordinance 183893 and 184081, both of which establish the criteria for the retrofit program



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'Soft Story' buildings have tuck-in parking as shown above.



What is a sof...