New Parking Retrofit Requirements: What You Need To Know - LBPM

New Parking Retrofit Requirements: What You Need To Know

New Parking Retrofit Requirements: What You Need To Know

Tuck-under parking structures have been deemed serious safety hazards, and will now require seismic retrofits. This includes soft-story buildings with carports, which account for more than 10,000 buildings in Los Angeles. In this exclusive interview, we sat down with Robert Lopata, president and co-founder of LBPM, about the new mandates, what landlords need to know to comply and how they can mitigate the costs. What is tuck-under parking?

Robert Lopata: A soft-story building is a structure that has a weaker first floor and is unable to carry the weight of the stories above during an earthquake. The first floor generally will have large openings in the perimeter walls such as tuck under parking, where parking is beneath the second floor. These type of buildings account for 13,500 multi-family properties in Los Angeles alone. Why does this type of parking pose a serious threat, and what is the new mandate as a result of the danger?

Lopata: From the Northridge Earthquake, multi-story buildings with open front wall lines creating a “soft-story” (buildings with tuck-under-parking) performed poorly and collapsed. The goal of the mandatory seismic retrofit program is to reduce these structural deficiencies by the most economical method. Without proper strengthening, these vulnerable buildings are subject to structural failure during an earthquake. How is the city enforcing these mandates?

Lopata: The law applies to buildings that are at least two stories in height and built under building codes dating back to 1978 or earlier. The city has set deadlines for the owner to submit engineered plans, obtain a permit and complete construction. Based on past mandates; building owners that are not in compliance risk city-issued fines if they don’t comply, not to mention the extremely dangerous personal liability they will carry. What do landlords with this type of parking do to comply?

Lopata: First off, the important thing to know is that the longer you wait the higher the costs! It is already starting to become harder to find an engineer to file the permit and a contractor to do the work. It is always beneficial to have a strong property management company guide you through the process. Given our experience and the number of properties we manage we have connected many properties with a qualified Engineering and Construction Company that will take care of every aspect of the project. There are even some companies that will carry financing for the project, making this hefty cost a little more manageable. You can always check out to find the compliance requirements as well as using their online search tool to see if your building is on the list. What is the cost associated, and how can they be mitigated?

Lopata: The retrofitting isn’t cheap, and can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $130,000. However, the Los Angeles City Council voted that renters and apartment owners must take on an equal share of the costs of seismic retrofitting. Owners can pass half of the costs of retrofit construction to their tenants through rent increases of up to $38 per unit per month. We work with some companies that will help create a personal loan structure that fits within your budget. At LBPM we try to make the process as painless and cost effective as possible.