Santa Monica approves comprehensive earthquake retrofitting plan

Santa Monica apartment building after 1994 Northridge earthquake (Getty Images)
Santa Monica apartment building after 1994 Northridge earthquake (Getty Images)

Commercial and multifamily building owners in Santa Monica will soon be among the nation’s most earthquake-ready landlords.

Santa Monica City Council approved a seismic retrofitting plan Tuesday that will require safety improvements to as many as 2,000 buildings suspected of being vulnerable during an earthquake.

Owners of buildings suspected of being at risk will start receiving notices in May, the Los Angeles Times reported. The notices will be mailed out over the course of a year. Single-family homes are not included in the plan.

City officials estimate the cost of retrofitting a typical wood apartment building to be $5,000 to $10,000 per unit and $50 to $100 a square foot for concrete and steel buildings.

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City officials outlined 200 brick buildings that would need to be retrofitted within two years. There are 30 concrete tilt-ups — where concrete panels are tilted into place to form the walls of a building — that would have to be seismically strengthened within three years.

Wood apartments with flimsy ground floors, known as “soft story buildings,” will have up to six years to retrofit, according to the L.A. Times. There are an estimated 1,700 soft story buildings in Santa Monica.

Roughly 70 suspected brittle concrete buildings will have a decade to complete a retrofit, while an estimated 80 steel-frame buildings will have two decades, according to the Times.

Los Angeles passed its own earthquake retrofit ordinance in 2015 requiring nearly 15,000 wood apartments and concrete buildings to be retrofitted, but Santa Monica has enacted the most expansive regulations in the country by adding steel-frame buildings to its list. [LAT] — Subrina Hudson