Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance

With an aging building stock in a seismically active region, Pasadena understood the need for a local ordinance requiring seismic retrofits to certain categories of potentially vulnerable buildings. After an extensive outreach effort, in May 2019, the City of Pasadena adopted a Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Ordinance. Soft-story buildings are wood-framed buildings with more than one story that typically have extensive ground story windows, garage doors, or open-air spaces (such as parking, with or without garage doors, large window openings, etc.) with little or no solid walls. In the 1989 La Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, soft-story buildings accounted for significant human loss and property damage. Staff has determined that there are approximately 493 wood soft-story buildings that require evaluation and possible retrofit.

Available Documents

The Soft-Story ordinance was approved and adopted by the City Council on May 20, 2019. Available documents are listed below.

Ordinance No. 7345 Design Guidelines Screening Form (optional)

Applicability

Ordinance No. 7345 shall apply to all existing buildings of wood-frame construction, or wood-frame portions thereof, where:

  1. A permit for construction of a new building was applied for on or before November 12, 1976, or if no permit can be located, the structure is determined by the Building Official to have been built under Building Code standards enacted prior to November 12, 1976, and
  2. The Ground Floor or basement portion of the structure contains parking or other similar open floor space that causes Soft, Weak, Open-Front Wall Lines.

Exceptions:

  1. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to single-family residences.
  2. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to a multiple-family residential parcels containing four or less units.
  3. The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply to ground floor or basement concrete podium levels where a rigid concrete diaphragm exist, however the first wood frame story above the podium shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter where a soft, weak, or open front walls exist.

Notice to Owner

Pursuant to Ordinance No. 7345, properties requiring a retrofit are categorized as follows:

Priority 1 Parcels containing buildings with 3 or more stories, or containing 25 or more dwelling units total, or Qualified Historic buildings (any size or number of units)
Priority 2: Parcels containing 10 to 24 units total
Priority 3: All parcels containing non-historic, 2-story buildings with 5 to 9 units total

As of August 2021, notices have been sent to all owners of affected properties in Priorities 1, 2 and 3.

Priority Group Date of Notice
Priority 1 December 5, 2019
Priority 2 December 2, 2020
Priority 3 March 3, 2021

Time Period for Compliance

Pursuant to Ordinance No. 7345, the time limits for compliance are as follows:

Time Period Action Required
1 Year from Notice to Owner Submit a completed Screening Form (Optional) if Owner believes property is exempt from Ordinance. (Please submit directly to the Building & Safety Division at the Permit Center. Only complete submissions will be reviewed. There is no fee for the review.)
3 Years from Notice to Owner (This timeline has been extended to 4-years pursuant to Resolution No. 9774. See section below) Submit Retrofit Plans & Obtain Building Permit
7 Years from Notice to Owner Complete Construction

(COVID-Related) Time Limit Extension

Resolution No. 9774, has resulted in a 12 month extension to the time limit specified in PMC 14.08.050 to submit plans and obtain the building permit(s). The deadline is therefore extended from 3 years to 4 years from the date of the Notice. All other deadlines remain the same.

Questions

For general questions regarding the ordinance, or to verify if your property requires a retrofit, please email: softstoryretrofit@cityofpasadena.net

For technical questions regarding retrofit requirements, Seismic Design Guidelines or the Screening Form, please visit the Permit Center to speak with a Building Division plan checker.

Timeline of Ordinance Adoption

Projected Date Action
September – October 2018 Conduct second meeting with the Soft-Story Advisory Group to obtain public input on the timelines, prioritization and applicability of the ordinance
October – November 2018 Meet with the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) to review the technical portions of the ordinance
October – November 2018 Conduct a community outreach meeting to solicit input on the draft regulations.
December 2018 – January 2019 Present draft regulations to the Public Safety Committee for review and comment
January – February 2019 Present draft ordinance to City Council. Formal adoption of ordinance shall follow.

License Lookup

For your convenience, we have provided links (see below) for you to look up a license of any licensed contractor or engineers in the State of California.

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