Santa Monica

Wood-Frame Soft-Story Structures

The city of Santa Monica developed a seismic retrofit plan following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. It was the first city in the Southern California region to establish aggressive regulations targeted toward wood-frame soft-story structures. However, many buildings within Santa Monica did not comply with this ordinance. Click here for information regarding the ordinance adopted in 1999.

The city of Santa Monica is currently updating its seismic ordinances to current standards. It is anticipated that updated ordinances will be before the Santa Monica City Council in late 2016.

In the News

In the News

LA Times: Santa Monica Offers L.A. a Cautionary Tale on Quake Vigilance

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

Santa Monica City Clerk
1685 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Phone: 310.458.8211
E-mail: clerk@smgov.net

 

Please note the following information is from the ordinance adopted by the city of Santa Monica in 1999.

 

1999 Ordinance Scope

Santa Monica’s 1999 wood-frame soft-story program applied to existing buildings that have the following characteristics:

  • Designed under the building code in effect prior to December 12, 1995
  • Two or more stories 
  • Parking or a similar open floor or basement space on the ground floor that causes soft, weak, or open front wall lines; or contains walls of wood construction without adequate lateral bracing on any story

1999 Ordinance Building Classifications

Santa Monica has established building-type classifications to prioritize retrofit efforts in order of the apparent risk associated with damage to the structure based on occupant load. This classification (Type I, II, III, or IV) is determined by the Building Officer at the time of inspection. If a building falls within the scope of the ordinance, the building classification will be determined and a written notice to the owner will be provided. Upon receipt of this notice, general timelines are established for each building type. 

Type I

Must be usable in the event of an emergency (e.g., hospitals, police
and fire stations, disaster recovery centers)

Type II

100+ occupants or occupied area other than parking or
storage on the first floor

Type III

20–99 occupants

Type IV

Fewer than 20 occupants

1999 Ordinance Timelines

The timeline for conforming to the 1999 Santa Monica Seismic Strengthening provisions for soft, weak, or open front walls in light, wood-frame buildings is dependent on the building type classification. 

Building Type I

MILESTONES REQUIREMENTS
PROCESS BEGINS Notice received by building owner
120 DAYS AFTER NOTICE Submit engineering report demonstrating whether the structure conforms to code provisions
60 DAYS AFTER REPORT 1. File for permit
2. Submit plans
150 DAYS AFTER REPORT Commence construction
1 YEAR AFTER REPORT Complete construction

 

Building Type II

MILESTONES REQUIREMENTS
PROCESS BEGINS Notice received by building owner
120 DAYS AFTER NOTICE Submit engineering report demonstrating whether the structure conforms to code provisions
180 DAYS AFTER REPORT 1. File for permit
2. Submit plans
270 DAYS AFTER REPORT Commence construction
3 YEARS AFTER REPORT Complete construction

 

Building Type III

MILESTONES REQUIREMENTS
PROCESS BEGINS Notice received by building owner
120 DAYS AFTER NOTICE Submit engineering report demonstrating whether the structure conforms to code provisions
18 MONTHS AFTER REPORT 1. File for permit
2. Submit plans
20 MONTHS AFTER REPORT Commence construction
3 YEARS AFTER REPORT Complete construction

 

Building Type IV

 
MILESTONES REQUIREMENTS
PROCESS BEGINS Notice received by building owner
120 DAYS AFTER NOTICE Submit engineering report demonstrating whether the structure conforms to code provisions
29 MONTHS AFTER REPORT 1. File for permit
2. Submit plans
32 MONTHS AFTER REPORT Commence construction
4 YEARS AFTER REPORT Complete construction