WeHo Will Require Owners of ‘Soft-Story’ Buildings to Prep Them for an Earthquake: WeHoVille

Owners of apartment buildings that have tuck-under parking will have to seismically retrofit those buildings to protect them from possible earthquake damage thanks to a 3-2 vote by the West Hollywood City Council on Monday night.

Approximately 780 “soft-story” small apartment buildings in the city have until 2023 to be retrofitted to protect them from earthquake damage. “Soft story” apartments, commonly built in the 1950s and 1960s, are wood frame buildings with an open ground floor that is generally used for parking. These open ground floors are especially vulnerable of collapse during earthquakes, but can be reinforced via a steel frame around key pillars.

“This isn’t about saving buildings, it’s about saving lives,” said resident Ed Levin, an architect who worked on the committee that recommended the retrofits. “Other than hospitals, fire and police, we’re not worried about saving the buildings. We’re concerned about keeping people alive in a major earthquake, and these retrofits can help.”
However, Councilmember John D’Amico countered that while it is about saving lives, it also is about saving homes. Many buildings could collapse during a major earthquake, making it difficult to find new housing.