Soft Story Requirements

City of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit Requirements, Villa Home Inspections

City of Pasadena

City of Pasadena Soft Story Retrofit Requirements, Villa Home Inspections

City of Santa Monica

City of Santa Monica Soft Story Retrofit Requirements, Villa Home Inspections

City of West Hollywood

City of West Hollywood Soft Story Retrofit Requirements, Villa Home Inspections

City of Beverly Hills

City of Beverly Hills Soft Story Retrofit Requirements, Villa Home Inspections

Videos of Soft Story Retrofit

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Background

On Jan. 17, 1994, a magnitude-6.7 earthquake struck the Los Angeles neighborhood of Reseda. The Northridge Earthquake, as it came to be known, brought national attention to a fundamental structural flaw that plagues thousands of buildings located in some of America's most earthquake-prone cities. As the temblor rattled the city, the bottom floor of the Northridge Meadows apartment complex collapsed beneath the two floors above it. Sixteen residents, all on the first floor, died as a result. Why did the complex collapse when so many other buildings remained standing? Because Northridge Meadows was a soft-story building.


Soft-story buildings, so called for having first stories much less rigid than the stories above, are particularly susceptible to earthquake damage because of large, unreinforced openings on their ground floors and in their typically wood-frame construction. These openings often accommodate parking spaces, large windows and expansive lobbies in residential and retail buildings. Without proper design, such structures are much less able to withstand the lateral forces (forces that push a structure side to side) that earthquakes generate. Once the first floor folds, the upper floors pancake down on top of it, crushing anything underneath.


As a courtesy to our customers, we have compiled Soft Story Requirements for your convenience. The information below is not meant as legal advice or to supersede each city's information. Please use this information as a starting point to conducting your own research.

City of Los Angeles

Adopted October 9, 2015


Soft Story Requirements

Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081 


Buildings that are most vulnerable have been identified with the following criteria: 

  • Consist of 2 or more stories wood-framed construction 
  • Built under building code standards enacted before January 1, 1978 
  • Contains ground floor parking or other similar open floor space 

The program does not apply to residential buildings with 3 or fewer units. 


To verify if your building is within the scope, 

Please refer to the Permit & Inspection Report (Property Activity Report).


Order to Comply Notices were sent between May 2, 2016 and November 6, 2017. 

 

The property owner must comply with the ordinance within the following time limits:


From the receipt of the Order to Comply:

  • 2 years: Submit proof of previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish
  • 3.5 years: Obtain a permit to start construction or demolition
  • 7 years: Complete construction

City of Pasadena

Adopted May 20, 2019


Soft Story Requirements 

Ordinance No. 7345


Pasadena Municipal Code Title 14, Chapter 14.08 - Mandatory Seismic Strengthening Provisions For Existing Wood-Frame Buildings With Soft, Weak Or Open-Front Walls.


Ordinance applies to all existing buildings of wood-frame built prior to November 12, 1976, and the Ground Floor or basement portion of the structure contains parking or other similar open floor space that causes Soft, Weak, Open-Front Wall Lines. 


Exceptions: 

  1. Single-family residences 
  2. Muttiple-family residential parcels containing four or less units. 
  3. Ground floor or basement concrete podium levels where a rigid concrete diaphragm exist, however the first wood frame story above the podium shall be subject to the ordinance where a soft, weak, or open front walls exist. 


Compliance Requirements. 

The Owner of each building is required to obtain a structural analysis by a Registered Civil or Structural Engineer. If the building does not meet the minimum standards, the Owner is required to retrofit the building to conform to such standards. 


Time Period for Compliance

  • One Year to submit Screening Form (Optional) 
  • 3 Years to submit Retrofit Plans, & Obtain Permit 
  • 7 Years to Complete Construction from Notice to Owner

Resources

Seismic Design Guidelines for Soft-Story Retrofits 

Screening Form (optional) 

City of Santa Monica

Adopted March 28, 2017


 Soft Story Requirements 

Ordinance 2537 


Is Your Building on the List? 

View the City’s Open Data site for a listing of properties and the Soft Story Requirements (available for download). 


Santa Monica Municipal Code, Chapter 8.72 - Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Requirements for Soft, Weak or Open Front Walls in Light Wood-Framed Buildings


The ordinance applies to all existing buildings of wood-frame built prior to November 10, 1980, and the Ground Floor or basement portion of the structure contains parking or other similar open floor space that causes Soft, Weak, Open-Front Wall Lines, and there exist one or more stories above. 


Compliance Requirements.  

The Owner of each building is required to obtain a structural analysis by a Registered Civil or Structural Engineer. If the building does not meet the minimum standards, the Owner is required to retrofit the building to conform to such standards.  


 Time Period for Compliance

  • 2 Years to submit Structural Evaluation Report
  • 3 Years to Apply for Building Permit and Submit Retrofit Plans
  • 6 Years for Final Approval


Resources

Retrofit Guide to Compliance 

Noticing and Compliance Schedule 

Residential Tenant FAQs

Property Owner FAQs



City of West Hollywood

Additional Information

Adopted April  17, 2017


Soft Story Requirements 

Ordinance 17-1004 


West Hollywood Municipal Code, Chapter 13.28 - Mandatory Seismic Strengthening Provisions For Existing Wood-Frame Buildings With Soft, Weak Or Open-Front Walls.


Ordinance applies to all existing buildings of wood-frame built prior to January 1, 1978, and the Ground Floor or basement portion of the structure contains parking or other similar open floor space that causes Soft, Weak, Open-Front Wall Lines, and there exists one or more stories above.  

Compliance Requirements. 

The Owner of each building is required to obtain a structural analysis by a Registered Civil or Structural Engineer. If the building does not meet the minimum standards, the Owner is required to retrofit the building to conform to such standards. 


Time Period for Compliance

  • One Year to submit Screening Form (Optional) 
  • 2 Years to submit Retrofit Plans
  • 4 Years to Obtain Permits and Commence Construction
  • 5 Years to Complete Construction


Resources

RoadMap to Compliance 

SWOF Screening Report

SWOF Retrofit Design Guidlines

City of Beverly Hills

Adopted December 11, 2018

Soft Story Requirements 

Ordinance No. 18-O-2767  


Beverly Hills Municipal Code, Article 4 - Standards for Seismic Strengthening of Existing Wood-Frame Buildings With Soft, Weak Or Open-Front Walls.


Ordinance applies to all existing buildings of wood-frame built prior to January 1, 1978, and the Ground Floor or basement portion of the structure contains parking or other similar open floor space that causes Soft, Weak, Open-Front Wall Lines, and there exists one or more stories above.    


Compliance Requirements. 

The Owner of each building is required to obtain a structural analysis by a Registered Civil or Structural Engineer. If the building does not meet the minimum standards, the Owner is required to retrofit the building to conform to such standards.  


Time Period for Compliance

  • 6 Months to submit Screening Form (from date of notice)
  • 1 Year to Submit Retrofit Plans
  • 2 Years to Obtain Permits
  • 2.5 Years to Commence Construction
  • 3 Years to Complete Construction


Resources

Beverly Hills Seismic Retrofit Screening Form for Wood-frame Soft-story Buildings 

Beverly Hills Design Guidelines for Seismic Retrofit of Wood-frame Soft-story Buildings 

Road Map to Compliance with Ordinance No. 18-O-2767

Seismic Retrofit Program - FAQ

Videos of Soft Story Buildings and Retrofits

This is what happens to a Soft Story building during an earthquake with lateral (side to side) movement.

Simpson Strong Tie Solutions for Soft Story Retrofitting.