The City of Los Angeles commissioned various reports in 2014 and 2015, under City Ordinances 183893 and 184081, that addressed measures to improve home safety in case of earthquakes. The goal was to establish mandatory standards for earthquake hazard reduction in existing wood-frame buildings with open garages. This was a direct result of the seismic damage and loss of life seen in Los Angeles during the 1994 Northridge quake, caused by certain types of buildings collapsing. During the quake the bottom floor of the Northridge Meadows apartment complex collapsed beneath the two floors above it. Sixteen residents, all on the first floor, died as a result. The Northridge Meadows was referred to as a “soft-story” building.
Many deaths could have been avoided if the structure were more resilient. Soft story, wood-framed buildings are dwellings, mainly apartments that are situation on a second-story level, mounted on steel columns with parking underneath at ground level, sometimes called “tuck-under parking”. With limited walls on the ground level and wide garage openings, these columns aren’t sturdy enough to hold up the building during an earthquake.
The City’s program does not apply to residential buildings with 3 or less units, and buildings that are most vulnerable have been identified with the following criteria:
- Consist of 2 or more stories wood frame construction
- Built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978
- Contains ground floor parking or another similar open floor space
In Marina del Rey, an estimated 1,291 condominiums and 29 apartment complexes may be affected by the new measures. Many Marina del Rey homeowners received a notification from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Building and Safety, within the last year indicating that their townhomes may need to meet the criteria for mandatory compliance with seismic retrofit.
The City has established a timetable for the structural analysis and plans that show:
· The existing buildings already meet the required ordinance
· Proposed alterations of the buildings will enable them to meet the requirements or
· Plans to demolish the buildings
Within two years, residents must obtain all the necessary permits for rehabilitation. Within 7 years, construction must be completed.
Currently, many of the HOA’s are working on the issue. The City has not formally informed residents that they MUST retrofit yet, and the collection of Marina villas has formed committees to pursue a resolution. They are coordinating with architects, engineers and contractors on a collective basis.
Some of the townhomes affected include those in Villa Cavalaire, Villa San Remo, Villa San Michele, Villa Beaulieu, Villa Imperia, Villa Rapallo, Villa Sestri, Villa Portofino, Villa Spezia, Villa San Cipriano, Villa LeTrayas, Villa Napoli and Villa Villetri.
Contact your HOA for more information and how this may affect you.