Seismic Retrofits of Older Concrete Buildings Starting Now in Los Angeles

concrete retrofits los angeles

Los Angeles isn’t messing around about earthquake safety.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles required the retrofit of all soft story structures throughout the county, and now the Department of Building and Safety is sending “compliance notices” to owners of older concrete buildings throughout the area.

The Mandatory Earthquake Hazard Reduction in Existing Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings ordinance first passed in 2015. The measure is requiring the retrofit of all reinforced concrete construction or buildings that applied for a construction permit before January 13, 1977 (excluding detached single homes and duplexes).

Under the ordinance, owners of vulnerable structures will have three years to get the ball rolling. Meaning, they’ll need to submit either proof that the structures are up to the Department of Building and Safety’s standards, their retrofit arrangements, or plans for demolition.

After owners have submitted their plans, they’ll have 25 years from the date of their ordinance to complete their retrofit or demolition.

It’s estimated that 1,200 concrete structures throughout Los Angeles will need seismic retrofits, and when that number is added into the number of vulnerable wooden buildings in the area, that figure rises to 15,000 structures in need of seismic retrofits.

While concrete building owners do have 25 years to complete this process, Mayor Eric Garcetti urged owners to get these structures retrofitted as soon as possible, after Mexico’s devastating earthquakes.

“Any building owner who thinks they should sit back and relax for the next 20 years should view that video,” Garcetti said in a statement after the earthquakes, referring to a video of a building collapsing to the ground from the shaking. “And let’s figure out a way to get to work now.”

“What’s more expensive, the loss of your entire property – let alone the loss of lives – or the investment in making sure that no earthquake of that size will destroy your building or kill anyone?” he asked.

And with signs that a massive earthquake is in California’s very near future, Garcetti feels “uneasy” about the 25 year mandate.

“Looking at those horrific images and seeing the tragic consequence reminded me of our No. 1 responsibility to save lives and not just try to calculate a dollar amount of, ‘too much,’ to save a life,” he continued. “That said, it also makes me uneasy thinking of the 25 years – we picked the compromise of … putting a mandate that’s very strong, and we were very flexible about the timeline.”

Now, more than ever, it’s important to be proactive about earthquake preparation and safety.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation contractors and foundation repair. Julian’s company, Julian Construction, has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.