West Hollywood considers earthquake retrofit costs to owners, renters

Property owners face a big bill, but tenants would also have to pay, the city says

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

West Hollywood is considering how property owners will pay to retrofit their buildings to comply with new earthquake safety standards, while still turning a profit and keeping costs realistic for renters.

That’s no easy task.

The city estimates that costs will average around $160,000 per building. A firm the city hired in 2015 found that 780 of its estimated 6,000 buildings may need work, according to a report in Wehoville. That includes different kinds of wood-frame, steel and concrete buildings. Once notified of their obligation, building owners would have five years to complete the work.

The city has proposed two options for spreading tenant rent increases over the course of several years to pay for the work. The first would allow owners to increase rent by a certain percentage following a retrofit if operating income fell below that of a particular year to be determined by the city. That rent increase would be permanent.

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Another option would allow an owner to pass along a certain percentage of the retrofit costs onto tenants over a certain period. That would also be determined by the city, which would decide if the rent increase would be permanent or not.

Los Angeles has adopted that pass-along policy, though some property owners have decided to sell their properties instead of undertaking an extensive earthquake retrofit.

The city will meet with owners and renters to gather feedback on potential solutions, and will submit a proposal to the city’s Rent Stabilization Commission in early March. A proposal will go to the City Council in April. [WeHoville] – Dennis Lynch