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Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood gearing up to pass earthquake retrofit rules

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Wood apartment buildings and others could get seismic strengthening

Los Angeles tough earthquake retrofit rules, passed last year, could soon be joined by new laws in the affluent neighboring cities of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood that could mean that thousands of buildings would get upgrades aimed at helping them withstand seismic events, says the Los Angeles Times.

In January, Beverly Hills will be considering an ordinance that would bring mandatory retrofits to wood apartment buildings, especially soft-story buildings, also called dingbats.

These buildings have a “flimsy” first floor, often occupied by a carport or garage supported by just a few few columns. In the event of an earthquake, those columns could buckle, causing the upper floor to come down on whatever was below. It’s estimated that Beverly Hills has about 1,800 such units spread across 300 buildings.

“We’re really concerned about economic sustainability — wanting to make sure that in the event there’s an earthquake, we want to be able to get our community back and up and running with as little problem as we can,” David Yelton, deputy building official for Beverly Hills, told the Times.

Santa Monica and West Hollywood are mulling rules that would go beyond just dingbat retrofits—both are proposing seismic upgrades for concrete buildings as well as inspections and repairs for steel structures.

Santa Monica has actually had laws about retrofits for wood apartment buildings and concrete buildings and the inspection of steel structures since the 1990s, but just wasn’t good about enforcing them, says the Times. The city expects that over 2,200 buildings will need to be evaluated for potential retrofits.

West Hollywood anticipates that there are about 900 buildings that will need to be looked at; about 780 of those are believed to be soft-story-type structures.

Read the full Times story here.