City of West Hollywood Passes Mandatory Seismic Ordinance


On April 3, 2017, the City of West Hollywood joined the City of Los Angeles and the City of Santa Monica on their efforts to improve our community’s seismic resilience of their existing building stock. Degenkolb Engineers worked hand-in-hand with the City’s building department to survey more than 4,500 buildings within the city limits. From this information, the city was able to craft a comprehensive seismic program that will seismically strengthen three critically vulnerable building types in a proactive time frame.

What types of buildings are targeted by the mandatory seismic ordinance for existing buildings?

The city has developed three mandatory seismic retrofit ordinances for non-ductile concrete buildings, pre-Northridge steel moment frame buildings, and wood soft-story buildings. On April 3rd the City Council voted on the first reading to approve the implementation of the wood soft-story building ordinance. They also requested that the building department present the non-ductile concrete and pre-Northridge steel moment frame ordinance to the council by the summer of 2017. The wood soft-story building will cover buildings most often recognized as a multistory wood building with tuck under parking.

What is the time frame to comply with the mandatory wood soft-story ordinance?

The city is expected to send the first wood soft-story building notification letters by the spring of 2018. Once a notification letter is received, the building owner is required to submit a screening report and in some cases a licensed civil or structural engineer may be required to perform an evaluation. If a retrofit is deemed to be required, then the mandatory time frame to comply with the retrofit will be five years. Buildings will be prioritized based on the number of units and number of stories (As shown below):


What does it mean if a building owner receives a seismic ordinance notification for their building?

Receiving a seismic ordinance notification means that a building has been identified by a preliminary, visual examination as being potentially vulnerable to significant damage in an earthquake, and therefore targeted by a mandatory seismic ordinance. Not all buildings receiving a notification will require a seismic retrofit. It may be determined that the targeted building does not require retrofitting. If that is the case, then the owner or engineer (hired by the owner) will provide the city with suitable documentation in order to remove the building from the list. If the building is determined to be vulnerable, the services of an engineer and/or architect, and a general contractor will be required. They will then develop retrofit drawings and complete the required seismic retrofit work as required by the ordinance.

Where can I get further information on seismic ordinances in my area?

Click here for further information regarding the City of West Hollywood’s ordinance.
Click here for further information on the targeted building construction types, and their vulnerabilities and other seismic ordinances in California and the Pacific Northwest.
Click here to view our previous report on the City of Santa Monica’s recent seismic ordinance.

For questions please contact:
Daniel Zepeda, Principal at Degenkolb Engineers  213.596.5014