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Thousands Of Apartments Will Need To Be Earthquake Retrofitted Soon

A pancaked apartment building with a soft-first story after the Northridge Earthquake. (Eric Gelinas via Flickr Creative Commons)
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Owners of buildings at significant risk of earthquake damage will begin receiving notice this week to complete seismic retrofitting, a cost that could be partially passed on to tenants.

L.A.'s Department of Building and Safety has begun issuing the first round of notices to the owners of 13,500 apartment buildings across L.A. that will need to undergo reinforcement to withstand a major quake, according to KPCC. The notices are directed at "soft-story" buildings—also known as midcentury "dingbats"—wood frame structures that have large openings on the first floor such as garages, tuck-under parking or even large windows. These buildings became popular in post-war L.A. as an inexpensive housing option, but before building code standards were enacted in 1978.

The first round of notices will go to buildings that are three or more stories and have 16 or more dwelling units. Roughly 100 letters are expected to go out to owners by the end of this week.

In July, owners of buildings with 16 or more dwelling units that are two stories or less will begin receiving their notices. And then in October of 2017, the final wave of letters will go out to owners of condominiums and commercial buildings that are at risk.

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Owners that receive the notice will have to comply within the required timeframe for retrofitting, which depends on their plan of action. Within two years, they will need to show proof of a previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish. Then within 3 and a half years, they will have to either begin construction or demolition, and within 7 years they will have to complete construction.

Earlier this year, the L.A. City Council voted to allow landlords to pass on one half of the costs associated with seismically retrofitting to tenants.

You can find out if your building is one of those 13,500 structures that will have to undergo earthquake retrofitting with this handy map.