Soft Story Retrofit Program

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seismic tremorOrdinance 17-1004  which was adopted on April 17, 2017, requires the mandatory retrofit of existing buildings of wood-frame construction where the ground floor contains parking or other similar open floor space that causes soft, weak or open-front wall lines with one or more stories above. These types of buildings performed poorly in past earthquakes because of the weakened open wall line which oftentimes leads to substantial building damage or building collapse causing loss of life, personal injury and substantial property damage. The Ordinance creates minimum standards intended to reduce the risk of collapse and improve the performance of these types of buildings in a significant seismic event.  Retrofit requirements will only apply to buildings where a permit for construction was applied for prior to January 1, 1978. 

The Ordinance went into effect April 1, 2018. Notices are being mailed out to affected property owners informing them of the requirements of the Ordinance, compliance deadlines and appeal procedures. Required milestone target dates begin from the date of notification and will be sent based on the following dates and prioritization table below:

 

Priority

Description

 Notice Issuance Date

Priority I

Buildings containing 16 or more dwelling units

April 2, 2019 

Priority II

3 stories or more containing fewer than 16 dwelling units

June 11, 2019*

Priority III

Buildings not falling within the description of Priority I or II.

 September 4, 2019*

* The following dates are approximate dates and will be confirmed after Priority I notices have been sent out. 

Buildings identified to be within the scope of the Soft Story Ordinance can be found HERE.

Inclusion of a building on the list is not confirmation that the building is structurally deficient, hazardous or unsafe.  Further evaluation by a Civil or Structural Engineer licensed in the State of California is required in order to determine if seismic strengthening is required or if the building meets the minimum requirements of the Ordinance.  A SWOF Screening Report will be required to be submitted for review. 

A time period of 5 years (from the date of notification) will be given to comply with the requirements of the soft story ordinance. Below is the compliance schedule with milestones as indicated in the table:

SOFT STORY RETROFIT MILESTONES

Required Action by Owner

Submit 
Screening
Report

Submit Retrofit Plans

Obtain Permit & Commence Construction

Complete Construction

Milestone

1 year from notice to the Owner

2 years from notice to the Owner

4
years from notice to the Owner

5
years from notice to the Owner

 

Further information on these milestones are available through our Roadmap to Compliance.

Buildings requiring seismic strengthening are required to comply with established design guidelines. Guidelines are available here: SWOF Seismic Design Guidelines

Residential apartment buildings required to comply with the ordinance will also be required to complete and submit  a Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) with their retrofit plans. Information is available on Rent Stabilization and Housing's webpage. For questions on the THP, please contact staff at rsh@weho.org or at (323) 848-6450.

Other Resources for Property Owners

Tips and resources on finding and hiring an architect, civil or structural engineer are available through various professional and government webpages:

California Architects Board: https://www.cab.ca.gov/consumers.

Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists: www.bpelsg.ca.gov.

Structural Engineer's Association of Southern California:  Find an Engineer

The Contractor's State License Board also provides valuable resources on hiring a contractor. Information can be found on their webpage at How do I Find the Right Licensed Contractor. Additional consumer guides are available HERE.

For more information on West Hollywood's seismic ordinances, visit our seismic webpage at www.weho.org/seismic. If you require further assistance on how to proceed, please contact us at SeismicProgram@weho.org or call us at (323) 848-6848.