New Earthquake Retrofit Standards Proposed for Santa Monica

Last Updated: December 1, 2016By Tags: ,


The Building and Safety Department of Santa Monica has made recommendations to Update the Technical Standards of the City’s Seismic (Earthquake) Retrofit Provisions of the Municipal Code. The recommendations were presented to and approved by the Building and Fire Life Safety Commission and have been forwarded to the City Council. The Council has agendized this item for discussion on December 6, 2016. Sources in the City estimate that a formal ordinance will go to the Council in February, 2017. Happy New Year?

In the months prior to developing the new standards City Staff drove by and looked at all multi-family residential and commercial buildings in town and reviewed building records in order to compile an inventory of Potentially Seismically Vulnerable structures. In so doing they identified 2,813 Vulnerable Buildings. Of this total, 582 were considered retrofitted and will not require further work while 2,231 properties are either not retrofitted or will require further analysis. The inventory list is in draft form pending verification against building records. It is expected that the list will be eventually available on line for owners and others to consult.

The recommended standards for 2-story buildings are the same as the City of Los Angeles 2015 standards. However, 2-story buildings with a moment frame and a final permit will be deemed already complete. 3 and 4- Story, Soft Story Buildings with previous approved retrofit work will have to analyze the entire story above the weak story for lateral load behavior.

The recommendations do not deal with the question of the possible pass-thru of costs to tenants as this is a matter to be determined by the Rent Control Board following passage of the ordinance.

The new updated law will contain administrative provisions for compliance and verification of retrofit projects.
There will be time limits to complete requirements. The final time limits are in discussion. The general milestones for time limit compliance are propose to be:

  • Notification by the City of Santa Monica to the building owner;
  • City of Santa Monica to record notice with the County of Los Angeles Registrar/Recorder
  • Submission of a structural analysis of the building reporting either compliance or recommendation for retrofit;
  • Provide the City with confirmation that the “Tenant and Occupant Advisory” notice to the tenants has been provided to each tenant;
  • Application for a building permit and submission of retrofit plans;
  • Obtain a building permit;
  • Start of construction;
  • First building inspection;
  • Final building inspection and approval;
  • Release of recorded notice

Any notification to a building owner of a Potentially Seismically Vulnerable Building is appealable within 60 days from the date of the notice. Appeals will be heard by the Building and Fire Life Safety Commission. Appeals must be of a technical nature and cannot be related to financial hardship or non-technical matters.

It is expected that a City webpage will be available for more information.

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