There’s a lot of information out there right now – booth good and bad – regarding the City of L.A.’s new earthquake retrofit requirements for wood-frame, soft-story apartment buildings.
City officials have reported an almost alarming number of business license applications from new start-up retrofit companies, and with them, a growing hoard of novices spouting off misinformation as fact.
Knowing what to believe can be difficult. and the cost of making the wrong decision: substantial.
That’s why we have teamed up with the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles to host a series of free, informative seminars that include city housing officials, industry attorneys and lending experts to help provide members with real and useful information that is vetted by AAGLA itself.
We recently hosted events at the North Hollywood Recreation Center and at AAGLA headquarters. Upcoming workshops include:
- Griffith Park: 12 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 at Griffith Park Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles. Lunch will be served.
- Culver City: 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Culver City Senior Center B47, 4095 Overland Ave., Culver City. Light refreshments will be served.
- Koreatown: 12 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8 at AAGLA headquarters, 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., Los Angeles. Lunch will be served.
Speakers at these events will include representatives from Optimum Seismic, the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, as well as experts on financing and insurance. These events are free and reservations are required. For more information, call AAGLA at 213-384-4131 or email AAGLAseminars@gmail.com.
For those unwilling or unable to wait for a workshop, Optimum Seismic will also meet one-on-one for a free consultation, and we offer a $2,000 discount to all current AAGLA members.
Register Soon, Seminars Are Filling Up Quickly
Our July 12 workshop, held in the evening at AAGLA headquarters in Koreatown, was booked solid two weeks prior to the event. We had to refer many who called or emailed to register to one of our future events. But don’t worry – there are plenty more seminars being planned throughout the year and into 2017. AAGLA is committed to helping its members connect to solid and reputable sources of information for all their members’ concerns. As the organization’s Preferred Supplier for earthquake retrofit engineering and construction, Optimum Seismic is honored to be a part of hosting these events.
Here are some frequently asked questions at these events:
Q: What buildings need to be retrofitted under the law?
A: The law applies to wood-frame, soft-story buildings that are at least two stories in height, built under building codes dating back to 1978 or earlier, and contain parking or other open space on the ground floor, with dwelling or office space above. The Building Department has published a list of all soft-story buildings and has an online search tool or mobile app (LADBS Go App) where you can confirm whether or not your building is a suspect soft story. Visit https://www.ladbsservices2.lacity.org/OnlineServices/?service=plr
Q: Why is the city requiring this now?
A: Here’s the city’s official response to that question:
The purpose of this division is to promote public welfare and safety by reducing the risk of death or injury that may result from the effects of earthquakes on existing wood-frame multi-story buildings with soft, weak or open front walls. In the Northridge Earthquake, many multi-story wood-frame buildings with tuck-under parking performed poorly and collapsed, causing the loss of human life, personal injury and property damage. It has been determined that the structural vulnerability of this building type is typically due to soft, weak or open front walls. This division creates minimum standards to mitigate hazards from these deficiencies. Adherence to these minimum standards will improve the performance of these buildings during earthquakes and reduce, but not necessarily prevent, the loss of life, injury or earthquake-related damage.
The Structural Engineers Association of California estimates there may be as many as 100,000 buildings in Southern California facing similar mandates as other cities and counties consider adopting retrofit laws of their own. Already, L.A. County, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and many others to the north are in the process of considering similar laws of their own.
Q: Can my tenants stay in their units during the construction process?
A: The City of Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department says tenants can remain in their home as long as the construction work does not make the home uninhabitable outside of construction hours and will not expose tenants at any time to toxic or hazardous materials. In almost all of the work Optimum Seismic has done, we have been able to limit disruptions to regular business hours, leaving the property clean, livable and safe during the times when most tenants would be at home.
Optimum Seismic recently drew praise from city building officials for the way we maintain site conditions with reference to cleanliness, access for tenants, and safety.
Q: What does a typical retrofit project usually entail?
A: Every project is different. An experienced engineer needs to customize the design of a retrofit based on the specifics of a particular building. A typical project design for seismic retrofitting should consider minimum disturbance to the occupants and uninterrupted use of the building as well.
Hiring an experienced and expert construction team responsible for overseeing the quality of the work is equally important. If the construction team is not experienced and not properly trained, it will create situations that will be costly to handle by all parties involved including building owners and occupants of the building.
Q: What does a typical retrofit project cost?
A: The cost of construction is not known until the structural design is completed. Please note that the construction cost must include finish work required to bring the building to an acceptable condition as far as building ownership is concerned.
Earthquake retrofits should not be taken lightly. There’s a lot at stake for building owners who do not have their retrofit work done right. If you have questions, please be sure to attend one of AAGLA’s upcoming workshops or contact us at 626-470-6092.
We at Optimum Seismic will be happy to meet with you in person to discuss your particular project in detail.