Friday, May 2, 2014


Who would have thought that our bite-size structural news e-blasts have such a powerful impact? I'm sure you remember the story I wrote about my "pet project" -- how dangerous the soft story buildings are in Los Angeles and that the city of San Francisco has enacted an ordinance to upgrade about 2,000 such buildings. I had discussions with many of my readers, who responded to my article, agreeing with me about the necessity of similar action by our own city council. One of the architects, Mr. Doug Breidenbach, AIA, with whom I've been doing business for a few decades, has an inside track to city councilman Mr. Karo Torossian and his office. Recently he spent considerable time meeting and discussing the necessity of similar actions with Mr. Torossian.

Here comes the break-thru. Another Los Angeles city council man, Mr. Tom LaBonge, who is also concerned with the situation, has just requested, by a motion, that the city council consider instructing the Department of Building and Safety of Los Angeles to provide an inventory of thousands of these so-called soft-story buildings. An inventory is the necessary first step of identifying and cataloging these buildings to see what impact these would have on the safety of the citizens of Los Angeles, particularly the people living in them. Just a reminder, during the 1994 earthquake 16 people died just in the Northridge Meadows apartment alone. That's only one building! And it was all due to this soft story style building.

One thing that must be considered is the economic hardship on landlords to retrofit these buildings, and how these costs can be mitigated by ways of tax incentives, federal grants or having the costs of this construction be passed onto the tenants living in those buildings.

Very interesting development, our office will follow up and report on this topic as it develops.

Re-posted from our newsletter on 10/16/2013