Many people are confused about what the Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance means. Below are answers to many questions people have asked us. This is not everything relating to the ordinance and there may be exceptions, however we are experts in this area and are available to discuss your individual situations and we solutions for you..
What is a Soft Story Ordinance?
The mandatory requirement of buildings that have a garage or carport on the ground floor thus making the first floor unable to carry the weight of the stories above during an earthquake. Tuck under parking or even large windows may also come under the ordinance.
Which city agency has jurisdiction over the ordinance?
The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (DBS)
Which buildings has the City of Los Angeles DBS targeted?
Buildings that are most vulnerable have been identified with the following criteria:
The program does not apply to residential buildings with 3 or less units.
Why are all Soft-Story buildings required to Retrofit?
It is to reduce the risk of loss of life, injury and property damage. In our last big Earthquake in Northridge numerous Soft Story buildings collapsed resulting in loss of life, injury and damage to property.
What does Retrofit mean?
The act of strengthening a building to reduce the loss of life or injury and damage to property.
What is this program about?
The stated purpose of this program is to reduce the risk of injury or loss of life that may result from the effects of earthquakes on wood frame soft-story buildings. In the Northridge Earthquake, many wood frame soft-story buildings caused loss of life, injury, and property damage. This program creates mandate a guide for property owners to strengthen their buildings to improve their performance during an earthquake.
What do I need to do first?
The property owner must hire an engineer or architect licensed in the state of California to evaluate
the strength of the building. The engineer or architect must then develop plans for the building’s seismic
strengthening in compliance with this program. The owner must notify tenants in writing as per HCIDLA
What do I do next?
You need to submit proof of previous retrofit, develop plans to retrofit, obtain a building permit or demolish the building to the Department of Building and Safety. Plans and calculations will be checked for compliance with the retrofit ordinance. LADBS will provide guidance for all necessary steps to obtain the retrofit permit, which includes obtaining clearances from all pertinent agencies.
Am I required to comply if I receive an official notice?
Yes, if the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety believe that your building is a Soft Story, the requirement to do so will be put on the Deed to the Property and will stay there until the property is Retro Fitted.
How long do I have to do it?
It is a waterfall process with specific items to be done within a specific time frame.
All the due dates to complete a phase of the process begins on the day you receive the “Order to Comply”.
Where will the money come from to pay for this?
The expense of the work to be completed is the sole responsibly of the property owner. The ordinance allows for up to half the cost of the work to be recovered from the tenants, but only through rent increases with a cap of $38.00 per month per tenant. It could take many years to recover the expenditure.
For more details view our Cost Recovery Page
Is my property on the list?
To verify if your building is within the scope,
Click here for a Permit & Inspection Report (Property Activity Report).
What should I do if I think my building is exempt from the program?
The owner of the building can appeal within 60 days from receiving the Order to Comply by
submitting a written request to the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners. The request should include supporting documents such as building permits for original construction or a retrofit that complies with the ordinance or evidence from an Engineer that the building is exempt.