Could my soft-story building collapse during an earthquake?

One of the most earthquake-prone urban areas in the nation, Los Angeles is likely to be rocked by a major temblor within the next few decades. As nerve-wracking as it may be, preparing for the big one is part of living in LA. According to the United States Geological Survey, there’s a 60 percent chance an earthquake measuring in at magnitude 6.7 or higher will strike the Los Angeles area in the next 30 years; there’s also a nearly one-in-three chance that earthquake will measure in at 7.5 on the Richter scale.

An important part of that is understanding risks you may face at the place you’re likely to be during the next major quake: home. Thousands of homes and apartment buildings are at risk of major damage in Los Angeles, though new rules requiring seismic retrofits for some of the most vulnerable structures should help mitigate the destruction. If you’re wondering how your residence will hold up, valuable resources are available to check on the safety of your home. In 2016, the city of Los Angeles released a list of more than 13,000 “soft-story” buildings vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake.

Soft story apartment buildings built anywhere between 1950 and 1980 do not comply with modern seismic code and require seismic retrofit to withstand shaking from earthquakes. This is especially true for buildings that are built near and along fault lines. The California Geological survey recently identified new faults that impact West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Any apartment building built before 1980 will likely be part of the 13,000 soft story buildings identified by the Los Angeles Department of Building Safety. This is especially true for any apartment building located in West Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley because these apartments are older, and may have been built over fault lines. If you want to know if your building will be required to comply with the soft story retrofit program you can call us to check if your property is on the list.

Using the Department of Building and Safety website, you can easily check to see if your building is on that list.

Just enter your address into the search tool and click on the “Soft-story Retrofit Program Information” button once your building’s information appears. If your building is on the list, you’ll also be able to see when your landlord received an order to retrofit the structure or prove that necessary repairs have already been made.

In 2015, the Los Angeles City Council passed one of the most stringent set of earthquake building rules in the country. Managed by the city’s Department of Building and Safety, the rules require owners of so-called soft-story buildings to reinforce the structures within seven years.

To get started today or for more information, contact us today to schedule a FREE on-site inspection by our team of soft-story experts or call us now at (818)287-8002.

Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019.