Seismic Ordinance and Soft Story Retrofit Program

Los Angeles has passed an ordinance to ensure soft story retrofit of weak buildings. The ordinance 183893 is meant to ensure safety at times of natural calamities like earthquake.

When we take into account the civil structural engineering of a building, it should offer safety to the occupants, meaning that the building should stand upright as long as the occupants exit the building at a time of disaster. This clearly means that the building should not be damaged.

There can be irreparable damages in the building and the occupants can be injured in the chaos, but the building should remain standing. This is the aim of the Seismic Ordinance 183893, which was passed by Los Angeles state on October 9, 2015.

This program aims to decrease the structural deficiencies of old and new buildings in the most economic and efficient way. Without proper support, these buildings can fail during or after a disaster like an earthquake. The most vulnerable buildings can be found with the following criteria.

  • Have two or more stories of wood frame
  • Have parking facilities in ground floor or have other similar open spaces and holes
  • Built before Jan 1, 1978

This new program does not apply to the residential buildings that have three or less units. State officials will send an order to the owners of those buildings that are identified as vulnerable. The owner would then have to comply with the ordinance and make the necessary changes in the stipulated time. The time frame is as follows:

2 years – Owner should submit the proof of old retrofits, if any, and the plan to retrofit or demolish the building

3.5 years – Owner should acquire the permission to start the construction or demolition work

7 years – Retrofit construction should be finished

These are the deadline for the earthquake retrofit program as per the seismic ordinance Los Angeles. This is a mandatory program and all the building owners with vulnerable buildings must take the necessary steps to ensure safety.

Posted on Thursday, January 11th, 2018.