- The Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety has started to notify owners of older city concrete buildings of their compliance obligations under a new seismic retrofit regulation, according to Engineering News-Record.
- Owners of buildings with non-ductile concrete must submit a retrofit checklist prepared by a civil or structural engineer within three years and then proof of compliance — or plans to comply — within 10 years. All retrofits must be completed within 25 years unless a building owner secures an exemption, the application for which must show that the strength of the lateral force resisting system meets or exceeds 75% of the base shear in current building codes.
- There are an estimated 1,200 concrete buildings that fall under the new seismic retrofit ordinance, which is the first of its kind enacted in the U.S.
The city first introduced the ordinance in 2015. The measure, which also applies to unsound wood structures, brings the number of buildings that must be retrofitted to about 15,000.
Owners are concerned about the costs of getting their properties up to code. A report from The Los Angeles Times estimated that retrofits would cost between $60,000 and millions. The city has, however, given building owners authority to raise rents by $75 a month in order to help pay for the necessary work. The concrete retrofits are expected to be the most expensive, with engineering and survey costs alone as much as $100,000.
According to an analysis by The Real Deal of a CoStar report, 3,000 property owners have started the retrofit process and 300 have completed it. Some are selling their buildings rather than forking over the cash it will take to comply with the regulation. When the regulation was first introduced, some floated the idea of waiving the city's gross receipts tax and other measures to help owners pay for the retrofits in an attempt to prevent the process from pushing businesses into the red.
California hospitals also must comply with new seismic regulations, and large healthcare systems like Scripps Health are factoring those into their capital plans. Scripps Health earlier this month announced a $2.6 billion construction program that will see necessary seismic retrofitting at two of its five San Diego-area medical campuses, as well as a new oncology center and acute care facility at two others.