Los Angeles County Takes Steps Towards Mandating Seismic Retrofitting of Older Buildings


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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has taken an initial step towards requiring the retrofitting of older, "non-ductile concrete" high-rise buildings that are at a higher risk of collapsing during a powerful earthquake. The board has unanimously voted to direct its public works staff and attorneys to draft an update to the county building code. This code would mandate retrofitting of all such buildings located in unincorporated areas or owned by the county within the next ten years. Additionally, the code would require owners of impacted buildings to submit structural evaluation reports within three years and plans to retrofit or demolish the buildings within five years.

According to the motion by Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis, "non-ductile concrete" high-rise buildings constructed before 1976 with a limited amount of reinforcing steel at the columns, joints, and walls of these structures are particularly vulnerable to damage and collapse during an earthquake. The motion also requested that county staff review possible development of financial assistance programs to help property owners cover the costs of retrofit projects. Additionally, the staff was asked to conduct an inventory of "soft-story" buildings in unincorporated areas that could also be more likely to collapse in a strong quake.

In 2015, the city of Los Angeles approved sweeping requirements for the retrofitting of over 13,000 soft-story buildings and about 1,500 non-ductile concrete buildings. Similar laws have been enacted by Santa Monica and West Hollywood.

City News Service contributed to this article

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