/ Analysis / Los Angeles Mandates Seismic Retrofits to Reduce Earthquake Hazards

Los Angeles Mandates Seismic Retrofits to Reduce Earthquake Hazards

Matt Ball on October 22, 2015 - in Analysis, Buildings, Corporate, Design/Engineering

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Oct. 9 to approve an ordinance that requires mandatory earthquake retrofitting for wood-frame and non-ductile concrete buildings. This ruling is a follow-up to the publication of “Resilience by Design,” a report from the mayor’s office that recommended retrofits for soft story and concrete buildings built before the implementation of Los Angeles’ 1976 revision of the building code.

Soft Story

Soft story buildings are wood frame buildings where the first floor has large openings, for example tuck-under parking, garage doors, and retail display windows. This Report recommends that building owners be required to, within one year of passage of the implementing legislation, submit to the City documentation establishing that an acceptable retrofit has already been conducted, or that a retrofit is required. It is further recommended that retrofitting be required so that first floors are strengthened to the same capacity as second floors within five years.


“Non-ductile reinforced concrete” buildings (most concrete buildings built before the implementation of the 1976 code) are at higher risk of collapse, because some parts of the building such as columns and frame connectors are too brittle and break in strong shaking. The weight of the concrete makes them particularly deadly when they fail.

The new ordinance puts a one-year timeline for a structural analysis of buildings by civil or structural engineers or architects licensed by the state of California. The structures must conform to the standards, with permits for structural alterations completed within two years and retrofit construction or demolished accomplished within seven years.

The ordnance dos not include any provisions for financing, tax breaks or incentives.

Read the full Resilience by Design report here.

Read the full ordinance online here.

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