Alpha Structural, Inc. Media Features

Soft Story Retrofitting Santa Monica

What are Soft Story Buildings? These are multi-level structures built with a first floor that is much less rigid (soft) than the floors above, such as in an apartment building with flimsy first floors which are mostly used as parking, with the apartment units above. They can and have failed in significant seismic activity due to unreinforced openings on the ground floor which caused far more movement than the soft story building could withstand, resulting in the upper floors COLLAPSING on top of it. A huge project to soft story retrofit Santa Monica has begun to help prevent this from occurring in the future.

Soft Story Retrofitting Isn't Just Recommended, It’s the Law

In March of 2017, the City of Santa Monica has passed the nation's most extensive seismic retrofitting effort, which will require safety improvements to as many as 2,000 buildings that are in danger of being catastrophically damaged in the event of an earthquake. There are an estimated 1,700 soft-story buildings needing to be retrofit. Buildings that require soft story retrofitting in Santa Monica are to be upgraded within a finite amount of time.

From the Surf Santa Monica:
“Soft-story buildings have up to six years to retrofit. Building with unreinforced masonry, found in the oldest structures, have two years.”

In an effort to avoid devastation and to safeguard residents from harm that has been caused by large earthquakes such as the Northridge quake in 1994, many other cities in the region are following suit and mandating the same soft-story seismic retrofit programs Santa Monica and Los Angeles have signed into law.

How Does The Soft-Story Retrofit Program Affect You?

It is no longer an argument as to whether or not an earthquake of significant magnitude is going to strike Southern California - it’s now just a wait to find out WHEN. The longer your building doesn’t get its required soft story retrofitting in Santa Monica, the more likely something disastrous could occur.

There is no doubt that an unreinforced building could collapse, causing irrevocable damage to the structure - and those who reside in it. But did you know that you could be held liable for these catastrophes? There are multiple instances of property and bodily damage stemming from an earthquake resulting in the property owner getting sued for seven-digit figures.

Getting your building the soft story retrofitting Santa Monica structures need is not only a great idea which could save lives, your building and a costly lawsuit, but did you know that it could also lower your insurance premium? Not only that, there are grants, tax breaks and financial aid that you can apply for to assist you to safeguard your building. Not to mention that you could have your tenants help you pay for these repairs - up to 50%!

Santa Monica’s mandatory soft-story retrofit program applies to existing buildings that have the following characteristics:

  • Wood-frame construction
  • Built under building code standards enacted before November 10, 1980
  • Ground floor containing parking or similar open floor or basement space causing soft, weak, or open wall lines where there exists at least one or more floor levels above

Santa Monica Soft-Story Retrofit Deadlines:

The following are compliance time frames. Compliance dates are calculated based on the date the owner received notice. All notices issued by the City to owners will include compliance dates.

From the receipt of the Order to Comply:

  • 2 years: Submit structural evaluation report, proof of previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit.
  • 6 years: Complete retrofit construction


Santa Monica Soft Story Retrofitting – Building Search

Use the interactive map below to find out if your property is on the Santa Monica Soft Story Retrofit List. The list is preliminary and some of these buildings, upon detailed inspection, will not need earthquake retrofitting.

Why Choose Alpha Structural For Soft Story Retrofitting?

Alpha Structural, Inc. is a leader in the field of soft story retrofitting. In fact, many consider them among the best companies at soft story retrofitting in Los Angeles. Bringing your building up to par with today’s strict building codes is one of Alpha Structural’s many specialties.

Alpha Structural will carefully inspect the building to isolate the most practical and cost efficient solution. Utilizing our decades of seismic retrofitting experience, we are able to design and engineer in a way to save on construction costs. Each soft story building must be evaluated individually.

Common solutions utilized are steel moment frames and plywood shear walls (strengthening existing walls). This adds the proper support the soft story structure will need against seismic activity. As each property is unique, all soft story retrofitting in Santa Monica must be customized for each individual property. Alpha Structural will design, engineer, acquire the permitting needed and retrofit the building, all in-house.

Our team is highly-qualified and has extensive experience with complex soft story retrofitting in Santa Monica. Contact us today at (323) 258-5482 to schedule an inspection!

Watch a walk-through of soft story retrofitting job site


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