Are you ready for the next earthquake - Van Nuys Retrofit 8182212469


In October 2015, the City of Los Angeles adopted Ordinance 183893, intended to improve the seismic safety of the City. The ordinance addresses 15,000 buildings in Los Angeles constructed before 1978. The ordinance requires analysis of wood-framed, open-front apartment buildings and non-ductile concrete buildings, to show conformance with minimum earthquake standards. Non-conforming buildings must be strengthened or demolished within specified time frames.


The modernization program is called the Soft-story Seismic Retrofit Program.


City inspectors spent about two years developing a list of so-called soft-story buildings that will probably need seismic strengthening. These apartments, which feature flimsy first floors that often serve as parking spaces, became popular after World War II as Los Angeles was spreading north into the Valley and west towards the ocean.


But they’ve also proved to be vulnerable to violent shaking. Buildings collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta and the 1994 Northridge earthquakes, including one apartment building where 16 people died.


It’s not the largest magnitude earthquake, but it is by now the most devastating. The Northridge Earthquake centered in the west San Fernando Valley began rattling Los Angeles on Jan. 17, 1994 at 4:31 a.m., a moment seared into the memories of residents who were awakened by the terrifying shaking. Fifty-seven people died. More than 9,000 people were injured and 20,000 were displaced in a natural disaster that caused an estimated $20 billion in damage. The destruction included collapsed buildings and freeway overpasses, snapped water and gas lines, rampant fires and landslides.


It was the Northridge Earthquake that made city officials pay special attention to the condition of residential buildings.


Over the past five years since the adoption of Decree 183893 and 184081, almost one-third of the wooden houses from the risk list have been modernized in the city in accordance with the Soft-story Seismic Retrofit Program. This means that they can now withstand earthquakes better. They are less likely to collapse under the blows of the elements, and will not endanger their owners and residents.


Los Angeles earthquake - a real threat?


Los Angeles is unique in many ways. It is deservedly considered one of the most famous cities on the planet. Here is just a shortlist of the main attractions of Los Angeles: Hollywood attractions, The best beaches, Theme parks, TV, Movie & Music Industries, LA-inspired pop culture. 


50 million visitors a year are the best illustration of the city’s popularity. And here is another interesting statistic: over the past year, about 700 earthquakes of more than 1.5 magnitudes occurred in Los Angeles. Most of them may not have been noticed by the townspeople. But there was a large one among them in Ridgecrest.


The 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes of July 4 and 5 occurred north and northeast of the town of Ridgecrest, California, and west of Searles Valley, California (approximately 122 miles north-northeast of Los Angeles).


The first mainshock (now deemed to be a foreshock) occurred on July 4 at 10:33 a.m. PDT, approximately 11.2 miles to the east of Ridgecrest, and 8.1 miles to the west of Trona.


The M 5.4 and M 7.1 quakes struck on July 5 at 4:08 a.m. and 8:19 p.m. PDT approximately 6 miles to the northwest. The latter, now considered the mainshock, was the most powerful earthquake to occur in the state in 20 years


The main quake on July 5 cut power to at least 3,000 residents in Ridgecrest. Effects were felt across much of Southern California, parts of Arizona and Nevada, as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, and as far south as Baja California, Mexico. An estimated 20 million people experienced the foreshock, and approximately 30 million people experienced the mainshock.


This is surprising but true: for almost 240 years of the history of Los Angeles, it has been constantly shaking. As you know, the official date of the foundation of the city is September 4, 1781.


The earliest known earthquake was documented in 1769 by the Spanish explorers and Catholic missionaries of the Portolá expedition as they traveled northward from San Diego along the Santa Ana River near the present site of Los Angeles. 


It wasn't until the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 that the United States government recognized the problem and began to focus on earthquake research and monitoring. And in the middle of the century, after noticeable earthquakes in Long Beach and Los Angeles, and then in San Fernando, the laws of California were changed.


The building codes were modified to require commercial and residential properties to be built to withstand earthquakes. Higher standards were established for fire stations, hospitals, and schools and construction of dwellings was also restricted near active faults.


Decisions adopted in 2015 develop and continue to work on the seismic sustainability of the city. The authorities rightly believe that it is better to prepare for the impact of the elements, even if it does not occur.


However, experts do not stop sounding the alarm. Back in 2016, the Southern California Earthquake Center announced that the southern part of the San Andreas Fault "looks like it's locked, loaded and ready to go.»


The fault runs about 750 miles, mostly along the California coast, but it also passes directly under San Francisco and to the east of Los Angeles.

Matthew Blackett, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography and Natural Hazards at Coventry University, wrote that there is a suggestion that a major earthquake is imminent and, given the amount of stress that might have accumulated, when it arrives it will be the 'Big One.'"


Researchers believe that such catastrophic temblors occur roughly every 100 years, but the last truly "big one" was the 1857 quake — an earthquake that was so strong that soil liquefied, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Blackett said a recurrence would most likely be of a magnitude of somewhere between 7.0 and 8.0 and could unleash a great amount of destruction.


City authorities are trying to prevent possible destruction of the city’s power by using the Soft-story Seismic Retrofit Program.


Spend today - save tomorrow


It must be admitted that the tightening of requirements for the construction of buildings to increase their seismic stability has always caused resistance. So it was a century ago when there was a serious debate around new building codes.


We see the same thing today. The average cost of modernizing buildings according to the Soft-story Seismic Retrofit Program ranges from 60 to 130 thousand dollars. For large buildings, the amount may still increase. Considerable expenses do not please - and not only the owners. They certainly affect the cost of rent and therefore affect the financial interests of many residents.


But if you compare the costs of modernization with possible losses that could fall on the owner and residents in the event of an earthquake, then you begin to evaluate everything differently.


The recent Ridgecrest earthquake already mentioned here has caused total damage of more than $ 5 billion.


The Katrina Hurricane was the worst natural disaster ever to occur in the United States. Property damage and associated loss were estimated to be over $100 Billion.


A very large earthquake in San Francisco or Los Angeles is estimated by experts to result in over $200 Billion in a loss.


If strengthening our buildings and infrastructure is not completed, we are vulnerable to a life-changing event that could change the affected region for over 100-years.


Reasoning about money recedes when it comes to people’s lives. And the lives are the main threat in unsustainable and rapidly decaying homes.


Retrofits also lower owners’ liability by reducing the chance that people can be hurt when the earthquake hits. And retrofits should not be neglected or postponed.


A California appeals court decision back in 2010 found that juries could hold owners financially responsible for people killed by their collapsing buildings if they did not take action to make them safer.


Retrofit Ordinance: how it works


Los Angeles City Ordinance 183893, with amendments 184081, is a city law that mandates the earthquake retrofit of certain buildings if they cannot be proven to meet specific safety standards.  The ordinance is intended to promote public welfare and safety by reducing the risk of injury and loss of life that may result from the effects of earthquakes on existing buildings.


The ordinance applies to two types of buildings:

Most multistory wood-framed buildings with one or more sides of the ground floor open, typically for tuck-under parking.  This applies to buildings constructed before about 1980.

Most concrete buildings constructed before about 1980.


Letters of modernization began to be sent back in 2016.


If you receive an Order from the City of Los Angeles, you may need to retrofit your building. You need to hire a licensed professional engineer – civil or structural - to conduct a structural evaluation of your building. This investigation will determine if the ordinance does or does not require retrofit of your building. Failure to comply with the ordinance is a misdemeanor and may result in prosecution and/or administrative enforcement under the Los Angeles Municipal Code.


If our engineer determines that your building requires modernization, you have time to start and finish this modernization.


For Soft Story buildings, the rules are. From service of the order, a plan and engineering report must be submitted to the city within 2 years, a permit obtained within 3.5 years, and construction completed, or building demolished, within 7 years.


Let’s clarify again: What is a soft-story building?

A soft-story building is a structure that has a weaker first floor and is unable to carry the weight of the stories above during an earthquake. The first floor generally would have large openings in the perimeter walls such as garages, tuck under parking or even large windows.


For тon-ductile concrete buildings, the procedure is different.


From service of the order, a plan and preliminary engineering report must be submitted to the city within 3 years, a final report, retrofit plans or demolition plans within 10 years, a permit obtained and construction completed, or building demolished, within 25 years.


The Soft-story Seismic Retrofit Program aims to notify owners through a courtesy notice that their property may need seismic retrofitting, and encourages the owner to take the necessary steps in preventing tenant displacement or having tenants live in uninhabitable conditions.  The notice allows the owner to prepare financially and provides time to locate a contractor to do the required work once a Notice to Comply (Order) is received.  When the related building permits are applied from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, a Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) is required. The THP, along with describing the anticipated scope of work, must also detail the steps the landlord will take to mitigate the impact to the tenant during the retrofit period. 


All actions and work must be carried out by the requirements of the program and strict building codes. This is not at all like a regular home repair, which can be done with your own hands. If you want all your expenses and efforts not to be in vain and your home becomes earthquake resistant, contact a specialist.


The Army Of Builders is a company that has all the certificates for the modernization program. The experience gained by the company's specialists in recent years will allow you to optimize the costs of modernization and fulfill the requirements of the city with the best efficiency.


Not all owners of buildings have available funds necessary for modernization. The company's engineers will help to estimate these costs, which will allow all work to be carried out and not be excessive. The cost of materials, the amount of work and the cost of these works are important.


The Army Of Builders will offer the most optimal option, in which the design features of your building will be taken into account, the advantages of fastenings that already exist will be maximized. The company's specialists must tell you where and how to get a loan for the planned work and how to recover part of the costs.


Once all work has been completed, an owner can recover 50% of retrofit costs through the Seismic Retrofit Cost Program.