How does Los Angeles pay for toughest seismic regulations in the country?
- The Los Angeles City Council has enacted the nation's most comprehensive seismic building code regulations, requiring the retrofit of an estimated 15,000 buildings and costing property owners from $60,000 to millions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
- Owners of unstable wood apartment buildings have seven years to comply with the new regulations; concrete building owners have 25 years, and both are permitted to raise rents by up to $75 a month to pay for retrofit costs.
- The city has identified, the Times reported, approximately 13,500 apartment buildings and 1,500 concrete buildings as candidates for retrofit.
Los Angeles city officials have regularly resisted addressing the need for tougher seismic laws, the Times reported, but became more open to changes after the Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquake during which two concrete office buildings collapsed and killed 133 people.
Now that the new laws are in place, property owners must find the money to pay for the upgrades, and they're hoping they'll be able to rely on the city and the state for help beyond the allowed increases in rent. Concrete building owners, the Times reported, face as much as $100,000 in engineering and survey fees, plus the costs to make the repairs, which could soar into the millions.
However, financial assistance to property owners could come via a waiver of the city's gross receipts tax, a state tax break equal to 30% of retrofit costs and other various tax credits and fee discounts under consideration by state and city lawmakers.
"We want the buildings to be safe," Martha Cox-Nitikman of the Building Owners and Managers Assn. of Greater Los Angeles told the Times. "But we need to figure out how we get people there without ruining businesses."
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