Los Angeles County Looks to Mandate Seismic Retrofits

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to create rules for a mandatory retrofit of county-owned buildings and those located in unincorporated county areas. Rebecca Ellis and Rong-Gong Lin II report on the story for the Los Angeles Times.

The targeted buildings, called ‘non-ductile,’ involve a lack of sufficient steel reinforcement in their concrete frames, which can lead to catastrophic collapse. “That type of construction was deemed so unsafe that it was banned for future construction by the 1980s. But most local governments have done little to order older buildings be evaluated and strengthened if found to be deficient.” Non-ductile buildings have caused significant casualties in earthquakes around the world.

“The supervisors also ordered officials to create an inventory in unincorporated areas of all ‘soft-story’ residential buildings — structures vulnerable to come tumbling down in the next big earthquake,” such as the well-known L.A. ‘dingbats,’ a type of apartment building whose second story rests on thin supports above ground-level carports popular in the mid-20th century. In 2015, the city of Los Angeles took a similar action, going a step further to require seismic retrofits on thousands of non-ductile and soft-story buildings (not all of which have complied with the ordinance). Other California cities have implemented similar ordinances for non-ductile, soft-story, or both types of buildings.

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