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earthquake retrofitting

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Los Angeles Soft Story Ordinance 183893


What are soft story buildings? A Soft Story building is a multi level building in which the structure’s first level is weaker (soft) and unable to carry the weight of the stories above it. Structures identified as most vulnerable are wood framed, non-ductile concrete buildings, and apartment or office complexes built on top of ground level parking. These unreinforced buildings are at risk for

structural failure in a significant seismic movement.  A Los Angeles city-wide ordinance now requires soft story property owners to bring their buildings up to current earthquake retrofitting code to help prevent this from occurring. This is the nation’s largest movement to promote seismic building safety thus far.

Soft story retrofitting is now the law

Unreinforced soft story apartment building parking

Unreinforced soft story apartment building parking

Up to an estimated 13,500 wood frame apartment buildings in Los Angeles are identified by city officials as soft story buildings.  As of November 22, 2016, the City of Los Angeles has created this ordinance, which states that structures at risk of being damaged in the event of an earthquake are to be upgraded and properly retrofitted within an allotted time frame. Buildings that are most susceptible have been identified with the following criteria:

  • Built under building code standards before January 1, 1978.
  • Consist of 2 or more stories wood frame construction
  • Contains ground floor parking or other similar open floor space.

Please click here to view ordinance


Depending on how many units belong to each building, along with the number of stories, a general formula determines the priority level of each soft story structure, thus generating an order start date for each individual building. Largest buildings are first to have to comply. Upon receiving a courtesy notice, property owners have a total of 7 years to complete the job, which are divided into 3 phases:

  1. Submit plans within 2 years
  2. Obtain a permit to start construction or demolition within 3.5 years
  3. Complete job within 7 years


As a property owner, these time limits of the ordinance must be complied with.

Many at-risk cities are now following suit in an effort to avoid this detrimental damage from occurring to the soft story structures in their cities.

Why choose Weinstein Retrofitting Systems for Soft Story Retrofitting?

Weinstein Retrofitting Systems is Southern California’s trustworthy leader in earthquake retrofitting.  Bringing your building up to the Los Angeles soft story ordinance standards is one of Weinstein’s many specialties.  Our company is capable of completing the retrofit process from start to finish involving architectural plans, THP processes, engineering, permitting and construction.

Weinstein has been in business since 1977, with over 35 years of continued excellence. Our team is highly qualified and has extensive experience in Soft Story Retrofitting. Call (800)862-6582 today for a free building inspection!