The city of Santa Monica has now announced they will go after structurally unsafe buildings! The city will become the first in the state to identify and later make the owners prove them safe or fix them. The ruling concerns three types of potentially dangerous buildings: High rise concrete, steel office towers and soft story wooden buildings. Technically, the city has already passed an ordinance in 1994 — ordinance #1748 for soft story buildings — but never fully implemented it, even losing the list of the identified buildings that somehow got thrown out over the years.

While San Francisco mandated last year that property owners must fix soft story wooden buildings, and Los Angeles is considering putting together an inventory of concrete and wooden apartment buildings, in the Southland Santa Monica actually acted first with this newest announcement.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to question the mayor of Santa Monica, Pam O’Connor, about this decision. She emphasized that seismic safety always has been a very high priority for Santa Monica, especially given the excessive damages from the last earthquake in 1995. I also asked her what advice she could give to the neighboring cities on the west side, like Culver City, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, to come up with similar programs. In her opinion this is an undeniable trend and it’s only a question of time until it will be followed by most, if not all, of these cities. This seems especially true since the largest city in the Southland, Los Angeles, has decided to go after these structurally unsafe buildings, a move championed by the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. You know the story of being in the same room with a 900 pound gorilla. When he makes a move, everybody will feel it and make adjustments. In Pam O’Connor’s opinion, all of these cities will come up with a program which will be the most suitable for that city, sooner or later. The sooner the better.

Originally posted in our email newsletter on 7/24/2104

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