L.A. City Council votes for seismic retrofits for older buildings

Thousands of wood, concrete apartments subject to costly renovations.

October 16, 2015 |
Thousands of Los Angeles buildings with soft-first-stories need retrofits.

Thousands of Los Angeles buildings with soft-first-stories need retrofits. Photo: Britta Gustafson/Creative Commons.

Thousands of older wood and concrete apartment buildings in Los Angeles that would be vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake would need expensive seismic retrofits under rules passed recently by the City Council.

An estimated 13,500 “soft-first-story buildings,” wood-frame structures with large parking areas on the ground floor, would be impacted. Some 1,500 brittle concrete buildings would also be affected.

Still undecided is how to pay for the estimated $5,000-per-unit retrofitting costs. One proposal is to split the costs 50-50 between tenants and landlords and cap possible monthly rent increases at $38.

Wood buildings would have seven years to complete construction after the owner is contacted by the Department of Building and Safety to retrofit the structure. Owners of brittle concrete buildings would be given 25 years to complete a retrofit.

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