City of Santa Monica
California

Staff Report
2214

Study Session on Proposed Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program

Information

Department:Building & Safety (PCD)Sponsors:
Category:04. Study Sessions

Recommended Action

Recommended Action

 

Staff recommends that the City Council review and comment on proposed updates to the seismic retrofit program and direct staff to:

1.     Draft an ordinance to amend the seismic retrofit program and tenant protection provisions;

2.     Initiate a Request for Proposal (RFP) to identify a contractor to assist with reviewing structural assessment reports, plan checks, and monitor compliance; and

3.     Establish administrative procedures and fees to implement the retrofit program.

 

Staff Report Body

Executive Summary

 

There is no greater responsibly of government than public safety.  With earthquakes a way of life in Santa Monica and the Los Angeles region, it’s not a matter of if, but rather when we could experience a significant seismic event.  Although Santa Monica adopted mandatory Seismic Retrofit standards in 1999, many buildings continue to be at risk and it is necessary to update these standards and establish a program to ensure compliance. 

 

Staff is completing the review of buildings in Santa Monica which will result in a final Seismic Evaluation Inventory list of buildings.  These buildings meet specific characteristics related to age and construction type which could make them less resilient to earthquakes based on their known performance in earthquakes. 

 

Staff seeks direction and comment from Council on a proposed Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program (“Retrofit Program”) to update technical retrofit standards and to establish more robust Retrofit Program implementation and compliance procedures.  The proposals are based in large part on the work completed by the City of Los Angeles which adopted its program in November 2015 under the leadership of seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones.

 

The goal of the mandatory Retrofit Program is to reduce structural deficiencies and improve the performance of vulnerable buildings during earthquakes. Without proper strengthening, these vulnerable buildings may be subjected to structural failure during and/or after an earthquake.

 

 

Background

Physical damage to vulnerable buildings, physical injury, and even death are the most apparent threats from earthquakes.  Earthquakes can also cause significant economic damage in their aftermath.  Earthquakes cause the greatest amount of fatalities in the world, with earthquake deaths resulting primarily from the failure of building construction.  

 

The Southern California region is dispersed with a network of geological seismic faults. Figure 1 is a map created using fault data points from the California Geological Survey (CGS) of earthquake faults in the City of Santa Monica and neighboring cities.

Figure 1:  Regional Faults in the City of Santa Monica Area.

 

Many of these seismic faults are active and have the very real potential to cause major catastrophic damage during earthquakes and aftershocks.  The City of Santa Monica is not only within close proximity of major Southern California active faults but also has a fault running through the extent of the City.

 

Mapping of the location and extent of the Santa Monica Fault is under the authority of the CGS.  The current map of the Santa Monica Fault was mapped in 1996 and shows a fault line originating off the Pacific coast and from a west-east extent, proceeds to run through the City of Santa Monica in areas primarily north of the Santa Monica freeway.

 

The 1995 Safety Element of the General Plan of the City of Santa Monica identifies the hazards of ground motions and fault rupture of the Santa Monica Fault.  In 1996, the Santa Monica City Council adopted a resolution declaring the Santa Monica Fault as an active seismic fault.  An active seismic fault is defined by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as: “A fault that is likely to have another earthquake sometime in the future. Faults are commonly considered to be active if they have moved one or more times in the last 10,000 years.”  A fault that is deemed active then requires proposed developments to evaluate site conditions prior to construction.

 

The USGS is currently updating the map of the Santa Monica Fault it is anticipated that the results will be published in mid-2017.  Specific areas within the City of Santa Monica are also prone to liquefaction.  Liquefaction is presented by the USGS as: “Loose sand and silt that is saturated with water can behave like a liquid when shaken by an earthquake.”  Liquefaction is likely to occur where the soil is saturated with granular soils with poor drainage and nonporous sediments.  In Santa Monica these areas are found along our coastline and at the eastern parts of the City.  The pink areas on the map in Figure 2 show the areas prone to liquefaction.

 

Figure 2: City of Santa Monica Geologic Hazards Map, 2014

 

In 1994 the Council adopted a series of emergency ordinances establishing procedures for the restoration or demolition of buildings damaged in the January 17, 1994 Northridge Earthquake, repair or reconstruction standards for unreinforced chimneys and retrofitting standards for public buildings, repair and retrofitting standards for critical facilities, and to evaluate, reconstruct and rehabilitate hazardous buildings including: unreinforced masonry buildings, concrete tilt-up buildings, soft story buildings, non-ductile concrete buildings, welded steel frame buildings.

 

On June 8, 1999, the Council adopted by ordinance substantial updates to the 1994 Seismic Retrofit Ordinance (see Attachment A).  That ordinance addressed the retrofit requirements of the same five vulnerable building types first established by the Council in the 1994.  This 1999 ordinance remains in effect today.  Even though this law required building owners to retrofit their buildings, without a formal enforcement effort, compliance was essentially voluntary. As a result, insufficient progress has been made toward compliance. 

 

The State of California does not have required seismic retrofit standards for buildings-at-risk.  Although there are references in documents such as the California Building Code and the California Existing Building Code there are no codified requirements.  This absence of a statewide requirement has led to many jurisdictions developing their own retrofit standards.

 

On October 13, 2015, the City of Los Angeles City Council adopted a mandatory retrofit program for Wood-Frame Soft-Story and Non-Ductile Concrete buildings.  The program became effective November 22, 2015.  Los Angeles began to issue notices to property owners of Soft-Story buildings over a period of 18 months beginning in May 2016.  Staff has leveraged the work completed in Los Angeles in establishing the administrative proposals outlined in this report.  The technical standards that are proposed are also consistent with those adopted by Los Angeles.  More information regarding the Los Angeles program is provided later in this report and a summary of the Los Angeles program, as well as the recently adopted San Francisco program is included as Attachment C.

 

Discussion

Buildings of a certain age and construction type are known to be seismically vulnerable due to structural elements of the building.  These buildings exhibit characteristics that make them less resilient to earthquakes. 

 

Vulnerable buildings include the following construction types and age: 

·         Unreinforced Masonry Buildings (“URM”) built before January 1, 1975 

·         Concrete or Reinforced Masonry Buildings with Flexible Diaphragms  (“Concrete Tilt-Ups”)  built before January 1, 1994

·         Soft, Weak, Open Front Wall Buildings (“Soft Story”) Where the building was built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978, and where the ground floor portion of the structure contains parking or other similar open floor space and there exists more than one story

·         Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings (“Non-Ductile Concrete”) where the building was built under building code standards enacted before January 13, 1977

·         Welded Steel Moment Frame Buildings (“Steel Moment Frame”) where the building was built under building code standards enacted before December 1995

 

Without proper strengthening, these vulnerable buildings may be subjected to structural failure during and/or after an earthquake.  The technical standards recommendations are for minimum life-safety requirements to reduce the occurrences of building damage, occupant injury and occupant death, meaning that the standards are intended to protect life by reducing the chance of buildings collapse.  Buildings which meet the proposed standards may still be found to be uninhabitable following a seismic event.  Certain critical buildings, such as those used by emergency personnel, or buildings designated as emergency shelters are designed and built, or retrofitted, for “immediate occupancy” and “immediate operation” to ensure the continuity of these critical operations.  A recent report entitled “Safer Cities Survey” (see Attachment B) issued by The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science for the Society for the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California provides information on the risks of seismic events in Southern California, an overview of steps taken by jurisdictions in the Los Angeles region, and a description of vulnerable building types.

 

On October 13, 2015 the City of Los Angeles established its first mandatory seismic retrofit program under the leadership of seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones.  The program includes only two types of vulnerable buildings, Soft Story and Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings.  On April 18, 2013 San Francisco established a mandatory seismic retrofit program only for Soft Story buildings.  Attachment C provides a brief summary of those programs.

 

Seismic Evaluation Inventory List

As a first step in updating the City’s mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program, staff from the Building and Safety Division initiated a project to develop the Seismic Evaluation Inventory List (“The List”) of buildings that are considered seismically vulnerable and that require a structural evaluation.  Owners of any building on the list would be required to complete a structural evaluation.  If the evaluation concludes that a building is indeed seismically vulnerable, the building must be seismically retrofitted within an established time frame. The process to identify vulnerable buildings included a review of building permit records and on-site external visual evaluations.

 

Building and Safety’s engineering and inspection staff performed the assessment for the following three buildings types since these buildings are easily identifiable and could be completed most efficiently with in-house staff, including:

 

·         Unreinforced Masonry Buildings

·         Concrete Tilt-Up Buildings

·         Soft Story Multi-Family Dwelling Buildings

 

Staff issued a Request for Proposals and contracted with Degenkolb Engineers to complete the assessment of the more complex building types, including:

 

·         Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings

·         Steel Moment Frame Buildings

 

In addition to the age and construction type of the building staff carefully considered a building owner’s previous efforts to retrofit.  With the two exceptions outlined below, buildings that otherwise meet the definition of a seismically vulnerable building as outlined above are not included in the Seismic Evaluation Inventory List, if staff was able to verify that the building has been retrofitted with an approved building permit in compliance with the standards adopted by the Council on June 2, 1999. 

The two exceptions include:

 

·         Unreinforced Masonry Buildings:  Single-Story with tall unreinforced walls[1]

·         Soft Story Buildings: Any three story or higher Soft Story with building irregularities[2]

 

Even if these two building types have been previously retrofitted, they would still require further analysis for possible additional improved strengthening elements to the building.

 

The following chart provides the preliminary number of buildings that have been placed on the draft Seismic Evaluation Inventory List by vulnerable building type.  Although it was staff’s intent to provide a final version of the list with this report, however, due to issues identified with the current draft, additional review of the list is necessary before it can be finalized and released.  Staff anticipates releasing the list by January 2017.  It is important to note that when a building is placed on the list it does not mean that the building presents an immediate hazard, but rather it meets specific criteria based on age and construction type which potentially makes the building vulnerable, and that without further analysis and proper strengthening, if required, it would be vulnerable to structural failure during and/or after an earthquake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vulnerable Building Type

 

Preliminary

 

Number of Buildings Placed on

Seismic Evaluation Inventory List

 

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings

209

Concrete Tilt-Up Buildings

34

Soft-Story Buildings

1573

Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings

66

Steel Moment Frame Buildings

80

Overall Total Number

1,962

 

Attachment D provides a detailed criteria for each building type that would qualify the building to be placed on the Seismic Evaluation Inventory List.  Although the list is being compiled with the best information available, should a building that meets the requirements for inclusion on the list be identified at a later date, the building will be added to the list and the building owner would be subject to all the same requirements as if the building had always been included.

 

Proposed Updates

The goal of the mandatory Retrofit Program is to reduce structural deficiencies and improve the performance of vulnerable buildings during earthquakes to protect life. Staff’s recommendations take into account standards that would provide an improved measure of safety while allowing seismic retrofit to be an achievable task.  Staff utilized the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC)[3] to ensure that the review met the highest level of technical expertise in conducting its review of the standards.   Also taken into consideration were the benefits of a regional approach to ensure consistency which would be of benefit to building owners.

 

Staff recommends applying the existing standards to the various vulnerable building types:

 

 

Potentially Seismically Vulnerable Buildings Type

 

 

Technical

Standard

 

Mandatory / Voluntary

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings

 

CA Existing Bldg Code

Appendix Chp A1

 

Mandatory

Concrete Tilt-Up Buildings

 

Int’l Existing Bldg Code

Appendix Chp A2

 

Mandatory

Soft-Story Buildings

 

City of Los Angeles

ASCE 7

 

Mandatory

Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings

 

City of Los Angeles

ASCE 41

 

Mandatory

Steel Moment Frame Buildings

 

City of West Hollywood

ASCE 41

 

Mandatory

Single-Family Brace and Bolts

 

CA Existing Bldg Code

Appendix Chp A3

 

Voluntary

 

Buildings that were previously retrofitted under a valid building permit are considered to have met City requirements at the time that the building retrofit was completed.  Except in specific cases, these retrofitted buildings will not be affected by the passage of a proposed retrofit ordinance.  Generally, building codes are not retroactive unless a specific requirement is written into building standards due to discovered hazards of certain construction.  In the specific cases involving Soft Story buildings and Unreinforced Masonry buildings, these buildings exhibit potential weaknesses whether the building was previously retrofitted or not.  Staff recommends that these buildings be analyzed to current building standards to determine the seismic safety of these buildings even if they underwent a recent retrofit.  Under existing local law seismic retrofits are required to meet modern building code requirements.  Staff is proposing meeting 75% of modern building code requirements to meet life safety standards because both experience and State Law guidance (e.g. California Existing Building Code) provides that 75% is sufficient to meet life safety standards in a seismic retrofit.

 

A public hearing of the Building and Fire Life-Safety Commission was held on November 3, 2016.  The Building Officer and his staff presented the Commission with the technical proposals for retrofit standards. The Commission unanimously recommended that the Council adopt staff’s proposed technical standards.

 

Compliance Time Frames and Noticing

Staff is proposing that all buildings that have met the criteria to be placed on the list would be issued a notice to comply (“Notice”) with all compliance time frames beginning from the time that Notice is sent to the owner from the Building Officer.  The following chart provides the recommended time limits for each type of building:

 

 

Potentially Seismically Vulnerable Buildings Type

 

 

Structural Evaluation Report Due

 

Buildings Permits Must be Obtained Within

Retrofit[4] Must be Completed Within

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings

3 Months

12 Months

24 Months

Concrete Tilt-Up Buildings

4 Months

18 Months

36 Months

Soft-Story Buildings

24 Months

42 Months

72 Months

Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings

36 Months

78 Months

120 Months

Steel Moment Frame Buildings

36 Months

180 Months

240 Months

 

Staff proposes that the compliance time frames begin at the time the Notice is deposited with the U.S. Postal Service by U.S. certified mail.  To manage work load more effectively, staff would issue the Notices phased over time by building hazard priority as follows:

 

1.     Unreinforced Masonry Buildings and Concrete Tilt-Up Buildings

2.     Soft-Story Buildings (3 or more stories)

3.     Soft-Story Buildings (16 units or more)

4.     Non-Ductile Concrete, and Steel Moment Frame

5.     Soft-Story Buildings (2 stories, 7 to 15 units)

6.     Soft-Story Buildings (2 stories, 6 or less units)

 

For each building that is found to not meet the established retrofit standards, a Notice will be mailed to the owner and a copy of the Notice will be filed with the County of Los Angeles Department of Registrar/Recorder requesting recordation of the notice on property title.  This recorded notice will stay on the title until a complete retrofit has been achieved in accordance with all requirements.  Following notice to the owners that an owner is required to retrofit its building to current standards, the owner will be required to then notify all tenants residing in the building of the finding and order by the Building Officer that the building requires structural strengthening.  An estimated schedule for the roll out of the notices is provided as Attachment F.

 

Appeals

Based on existing law, the owner of any building subject to seismic retrofitting requirements will have multiple opportunities to seek review of the Building Officer’s decisions during the retrofitting process.  First, anyone who receives a notice from the Building Officer, indicating that the Building Officer has determined that their building is potentially seismically vulnerable and requiring the submission of a Structural Evaluation Report, may appeal this determination to the Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission.  Additionally, once a Structural Evaluation Report has been reviewed by Building and Safety, and staff determines that, based on the Report, a building is sufficiently vulnerable to warrant seismic retrofitting, that determination may also be appeal to the Commission.

 

Time Frame Extensions

While, as indicated above, staff proposes to set forth concrete timeframes for retrofitting, many unforeseeable or unusual circumstances could make strict compliance with such time frames impossible.  For instances, owners may not be able to timely secure assistance from licensed engineers as there are a limited number of structural engineering firms available in the Los Angeles area, and the City of Los Angeles is also undergoing this same type of seismic retrofitting program.  Additionally, unexpected personal developments, such serious illnesses, could also hinder compliance.  Any person experiencing any such unforeseen or unusual circumstances would be able to seek a time extension from the Planning Director (or his or her designee), whose decision would be appealable to a City Hearing Officer.

 

Enforcement Action

The Program will have enforcement mechanisms for noncompliance of each time limit milestone.  Code Enforcement staff will coordinate closely with staff in Building and Safety when enforcement is necessary.  In egregious cases of noncompliance, staff will refer such cases to the City Attorney’s Office.

 

Tenants

Owners of vulnerable buildings that require retrofitting would be required to comply with existing tenant protection provisions of the Santa Monica Municipal Code (SMMC) including Chapter 8.100 Tenant Protection During Construction and Chapter 4.36 Tenant Relocation Assistance.  This would include any future amendments to those codes.

 

In response to recent experiences related to air quality concerns during construction and the health and safety of tenants, staff is also proposing to include with amendments to the retrofit program minor modifications to Chapters 8.100 and 4.36 of the SMMC to strengthen the City’s response when there is an identified risk to tenants.  Staff is also modifying its current protocols when air quality issues arise which are currently under the jurisdiction of the South Coast Air Quality Management Division (AQMD).  Although AQMD would continue to maintain jurisdiction over air quality, including asbestos testing and abatement permitting, staff proposes to establish greater tenant protection protocols, coupled with contracting with a licensed environmental consulting firm to initiate testing in such cases where there is a reasonable suspicion of a potential hazard.  Staff proposes to amend the SMMC to hold the building owner responsible for costs associated with testing when such testing is required due to the actions of the owner.  This change is not intended to supersede AQMD’s authority but rather to keep staff focused on the City’s goal to first protect the health and safety of tenants.  This would allow staff to initiate a relocation order more expeditiously instead of waiting for AQMD or the Los Angeles County Department of Health to respond to an immediate need.  If necessary staff will submit as part of the FY2017/18 biennial budget a request for funding for environmental testing. Any needs that arise during the remainder of FY2016/17 will be paid for with existing budget.

 

Land Use and Other Regulations

Staff does not propose any major changes to zoning, permitting or review requirements that may result from work needed to complete a retrofit, except in the case of parking requirements.  For example, any retrofit project that would trigger review by the Architectural Review Board (ARB) or the Landmarks Commission must obtain such review and approval before a building permit could be issued authorizing commencement of the project.

 

However, there are a couple of notable exceptions proposed. 

1.     Consistent with Los Angeles, staff does propose that if a retrofit should cause a need to reduce the number of parking spaces that staff (instead of the Planning Commission) be authorized to approve such reductions if the applicant can show that there is no practicable method to complete the retrofit without reducing parking. 

2.     Staff proposes allowing permit extensions up to the time frame established for completion, including any extensions granted.

3.     If the cost of the retrofit requires that reconfiguration of trash areas, staff proposes that the Public Works Director (or designee) should be able to waive the requirement if impracticable. 

 

Demolition

Staff does not propose any changes in established requirements for demolition of buildings.  Owners will not be provided with the option to demolish a building in lieu of completing a retrofit.  An owner who wishes to demolish a building would be required to meet all requirements of Chapter 9.25 of the SMMC.  As is the case today, only in such cases where the Building Officer determines that a building is so unsafe that it is an imminent threat to public safety could the building be demolished without first meeting the requirements of Chapter 9.25. 

 

Staffing and Fees

Staff anticipates that the resources needed to mail the initial notices to building owners who are on the Seismic Evaluation Inventory List, informing them of their need to obtain a structural evaluation report will be absorbed by existing clerical staff and budget.  If necessary staff proposes to contract with short term temporary staff assistance to complete minor clerical tasks in completing the mailing. 

 

Staff proposes to upgrade the currently vacant but budgeted position of Building & Safety Supervisor to Building & Safety Administrator as part of the FY2017/19 biennial budget process.  The upgrade would allow for the hiring of an employee with the experience and level skill set appropriate to serve as program manager/ombudsman for Permit Center operations.  This change will also provide necessary programmatic and process skills within the unit to oversee and improve the Construction Permitting process.   This position would continue to supervise the permit center employees, but would also work towards continual process improvements to address systemic permit processing issues.  Staff will seek to use savings from other staffing adjustments in Planning and Community Development to offset the cost.  Routine administrative duties to support the program would be managed by this position with support from existing permit center staff.  The newly created Neighborhood Preservation Coordinator would assist with monitoring projects in residential buildings with tenant occupants. 

 

Staff also proposes to issue a Request for Proposal to contract with an engineering firm to assist with reviewing the structural engineering reports and plan checks.  Utilizing a consulting firm to assist with this work will allow for flexibility in resources as work increases and decreases due to the rolling deadlines.  Inspections would be conducted with existing staff.  If necessary staff would bring forward a budgetary request in the future for additional staffing resources. 

 

Existing Plan Check and Building Permit fees would apply for seismic retrofit work to be completed, including a Seismic Retrofit Engineering Report Review Fee.  However, as part of the FY 2017/19 biennial budget process, staff will include any necessary fees related to the mandatory retrofit program that may be identified.

 

Economic Cost of Seismic Retrofit Work

The current estimated cost of a non-complex, two-story Soft Story building ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 per unit.  This would make the cost of an average six-unit Soft Story retrofit range between $30,000 to $60,000.  Both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco have estimated typical Soft Story retrofit costs at $60,000 to $130,000 per building. The cost estimates by Los Angeles and San Francisco are consistent with what owners can expect in Santa Monica based on the current inventory of Soft Story buildings.

 

For commercial buildings, there are not established standards of retrofit costs as the methods of retrofit solutions vary widely.

 

Rent Controlled Units and Building Owner “Pass-Through Costs”

Following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, Council passed an ordinance requiring the repair, and strengthening of Soft Story multi-family buildings.  This effort provided some measures of additional safety by allowing a form of strengthening of Soft Story and Weak Front buildings.  Following Council’s action in 1994 for Soft Story strengthening, the Rent Control Board adopted Regulation 4113 which allowed building owners to pass-through 100% of earthquake related repairs and retrofitting costs to tenants.  Effective February 16, 1994, the regulation allowed 100% of the reasonable costs plus financing to be passed-through as permanent rent increases provided the work was completed by June 30, 1996.

 

As of August 1, 1995, Rent Control Regulation 4113B allowed owners to pass-through 50% of the costs associated with retrofitting required by City Council Ordinances 1748 and 1771.  Currently, if an owner undertakes and completes retrofit work, a “net operating income petition” can be filed with the Rent Control Board.  This petition would compare current net operating income versus net operating income in 1978 prior to the passage of the rent control law.  If the petition finds that the owner is not making a fair return, relative to the 1978 reference, then improvement costs can be passed-through as permanent rent increases. 

 

While many petitions were filed under Regulation 4113, only one petition was filed under Regulation 4113B and no rent increases based upon seismic retrofit costs have been requested through the net operating income process.  This may be attributable in large part to the passage of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act by the State legislature in 1995.  With the ability to reset rents to market rate for all new tenancies that started since January 1999, owners may take all existing and anticipated operating costs into consideration when establishing a new rent.  For this reason, and because a mandatory retrofit program is not yet in place, owners have not pursued permanent rent increases in recent years for retrofitting costs. 

 

The City of Los Angeles will allow a fifty-percent pass-through cost to tenants, if approved by the Los Angeles Housing Community Investment Department.  The maximum rent increase is $38 per month for 10 years.  The recovery period may be extended until the full approved amount is collected.  Seismic retrofit costs are divided among all the units.  Applications for the increase by the owner must be submitted within 12 months of completing the retrofit work.   City staff will work with the Rent Control Board staff to provide recommendations on the issue of pass-through to the Rent Control Board, following Council’s passage of the Seismic Retrofit Ordinances.

 

Financing for Seismic Retrofit Work

There are also options for property owners to receive property assessed clean energy (PACE) program financing.  The City, by joining a number of joint powers authorities (JPAs) has authorized seven separate PACE programs to operate within the City’s boundaries (Attachment G).  Currently, four of the seven PACE programs provide seismic retrofit financing to Santa Monica property owners, with the potential that the other three PACE programs operating in the City may also add seismic retrofitting as an eligible activity in the future.  PACE financing allows participating property owners repay the cost of the seismic retrofit improvements through an assessment levied against their properties, which is payable in semi-annual installments on property tax bills. A lien is filed against the property as security until the assessment is re-paid. The assessment remains with the property should the owner transfer or sell the property before the loan is re-paid. As a participant in a JPA, the City is not obligated to repay the bonds issued by the authority, or collect or pay the assessments levied on the participating properties.

 

Program Implementation Elements

If directed to do so, staff will prepare an ordinance to amend the SMMC and develop the administrative procedures for the program, issue a Request for Proposal for an engineering firm, train staff, and begin issuing notices to building owners.

 

Following direction, staff will send a letter to all property owners on the list to provide them with information regarding the proposed program, their responsibilities, and the anticipated roll out schedule for the notices in advance of bringing an ordinance to Council. Staff anticipates bringing an ordinance for Council consideration to its February 14, 2017 meeting.  Budgetary items would be included with the FY2017/18 Biennial budget. 

 

Staff proposes to launch a custom Seismic Retrofit Program webpage to allow visitors the option to search by property address or Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) to determine if a building is on the Seismic Evaluation Inventory List.  The web site will also contain information for both building owners and residential tenants. 

 

Staff has begun public outreach, including Rent Control staff, the Santa Monica Chamber Commerce, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., Building Owners and Management Association (BOMA), ACTION Apartments Association, Inc. in preparation for the study session with Council.  Staff will continue and expand outreach following direction from Council on the program, including offering educational programs and materials on the administrative and technical aspects of the program, such as a Seismic Retrofit Fair and/or seminars.  Materials and meetings geared towards tenants will be developed to ensure that tenants are also well informed of the program.  Staff will also work closely with Rent Control staff in developing outreach and educational programs.

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended actions.

 


[1] Unreinforced Masonry buildings (URM) have the least resistance to seismic ground motions even if the building has some form of retrofit strengthening, these buildings are more vulnerable than structures with more resilient building construction.  The URM's that pose the greatest threat in collapse potential are those with tall walls with minimal thickness.  An example would be masonry brick where the wall thickness is the width of a single brick supports a brick wall of 10 feet or more.  These URM cases, whether previously retrofitted or not, will have to perform analysis of the building.

 

[2] For Soft Story buildings of three and four stories with building irregularities, staff is recommending a similar approach to the City of Los Angeles in that a detailed analysis is required to understand retrofit solutions.  An irregular building is a structure that essentially is not "rectangular" or "box-shaped" in design.  An example of an irregular structure is a building that is shaped like a "letter" such as a "U" or "L" shaped building.  Under the proposed technical standards, Irregular three or four story Soft Story Buildings, whether previously retrofitted or not will require analysis of the building.

[3] SEAOSC is a non-profit organization consisting of consulting structural engineers in the Southern California region.  These professionals are not only practicing structural engineers in building design and retrofit, but are also the top experts who contribute in the development and authorship of the industry technical standards in structural design and structural retrofit.  SEAOSC also has an Existing Buildings Committee who specializes in considerations of structural retrofit and seismic strengthening of buildings. 

[4] Compliance time frames differ from the requirements adopted by Los Angeles for the two building types subject to the City’s mandatory retrofit program.  Attachment E provides a comparison of these differences.

Meeting History

Dec 6, 2016 4:30 PM  City Council Special Joint Meeting
draft Draft