Los Angeles

Wood-Frame Soft-Story Structures

The city of Los Angeles Ordinance #183893 is effective as of November 22, 2015. The Los Angeles wood-frame soft-story ordinance can be found here: Article 1, Division 93: Mandatory Earthquake Hazard Reduction in Existing Wood-Frame Buildings with Soft, Weak, or Open Front Walls.

Changes to the ordinance, including updates to the time limits for compliance, were approved on February 12, 2016 under Ordinance #184081.

Scope

Los Angeles’ mandatory wood-frame soft-story program applies to existing buildings that have the following characteristics:

  • Wood-frame construction
  • Construction permit was applied for prior to January 1, 1978
  • Four or more dwelling units
  • Ground floor containing parking or similar open floor or basement space causing soft, weak, or open lines where there exists at least one or more levels above

Building officials have identified approximately 13,500 buildings in the city of Los Angeles that fall within the scope of this ordinance. As of April 2016, the preliminary inventory of wood-frame soft-story apartments (download the list) and condominiums (download the list) has been made public by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS).

City of Los Angeles Priority Designations

The Los Angeles wood-frame soft-story ordinance will be carried out in phases. The timeline for compliance for each unique structure begins following service distribution of the order from the LADBS. Orders will be issued according to the priority levels outlined below.

 
PRIORITY

 
BUILDING TYPE

BUILDING
CATEGORY

START DATE FOR
ISSUING ORDERS

Priority I

16 or more dwelling units

3 or more stories

May 2, 2016

2 stories

July 22, 2016

Priority II

Three or more stories with
fewer than 16 dwelling units

All

October 17, 2016

Priority III

Fewer than three stories and
fewer than 16 dwelling units

9-15 units

January 30, 2017

7-8 units

May 29, 2017

4-6 units

August 14, 2017

Condos/Commercial

October 30, 2017

Timeline

The city of Los Angeles requires that wood-frame soft-story building retrofits adhere to the timeline shown below. An official Order is issued to owners of buildings that fall within the scope of the ordinance. Once the Order has been received, the subsequent deadlines are initiated. It is important to note that Orders will be delivered in the phases outlined above, according to the priority level of the structure.

MILESTONE REQUIREMENT
BEGIN PROCESS Order received by building owner
2 YEARS AFTER ORDER

Submit one of the following:
1. Proof that structure meets ordinance requirements OR
2. Plans for retrofit OR
3. Plans for demolition

3.5 YEARS AFTER ORDER

Obtain one of the following:
1. Permit for rehabilitation OR 
2. Permit for demolition

7 YEARS AFTER ORDER

Complete one of the following:
1. Construction/retrofit OR
2. Demolition

 

In the News

LA Times Soft-Story Buildings Map and Searchable Inventory

LA City Council Approves Seismic Retrofitting Measure (NBC)

Los Angeles City Council Approves Major Earthquake Retrofitting Ordinance (National Law Review)

Los Angeles Passes Nation’s Strictest Seismic Retrofit Ordinance (ASCE)

Los Angeles Will Have the Nation’s Toughest Earthquake Safety Rules (LA Times)

Mayor Garcetti Signs Historic Earthquake Retrofit Measure into Law

Infographic: Look at How Apartments Can Collapse During an Earthquake (LA Times)

 

Contacts

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
Phone: 626.696.4650
E-mail: seismicordinances@wje.com

LADBS Soft-Story Retrofit Unit
201 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 890, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 213.202.9924
E-mail: Soft-storyretrofit@lacity.org