The City of Los Angeles recently passed an Ordinance requiring the retrofit of all wood-frame Soft-Story buildings. A typical Soft-Story building is a building consisting of two or more stories located over a ground level with large openings, such as tuck under parking, garages, or a commercial store front. Without proper strengthening of these buildings, the building may be subjected to structural failure during and/or after an earthquake.

How to Protect a Soft Story Structure

The first step in any soft-story seismic retrofitting project is to analyze the structure and determine the best way to strengthen the building. One of our foundation experts will have to weigh several factors when deciding the best way to approach the project.

Not only do we have to ensure the building will meet the structural standards required of retrofitted buildings, but we also have to minimize the impact on the function and use of the building. As easy as it would be to reinforce buildings by filling their ground floor parking spaces with braces or walling over their picture windows, those are not the best options. We use several different approaches to complete a soft-story seismic retrofittaylored to the needs of your building.

Schedule An Inspection Consultation

If you own a soft-story structure, we are offering an inspection consultation to building owners. Call (818) 901-5990.

Northridge Earthquake Damage

Retrofitting Examples

From past earthquakes, multi-story buildings with weak and/or open front wall lines creating a “soft-story” (i.e. buildings with tuck-under-parking) performed poorly and collapsed. The goal of the mandatory retrofit program, under Ordinance 183893 and Ordinance 184081, is to reduce structural deficiencies by the most economical and feasible method. Without proper strengthening, these vulnerable buildings may be subjected to structural failure during and/or after an earthquake.

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

  • Consist of 2 or more stories wood frame 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 less units.