Seismic Retrofits Completed at Approximately 84% of Targeted Beverly Hills Buildings

Over 200 vulnerable “soft story” buildings have been retrofitted in Beverly Hills since the city launched its Seismic Retrofit Program in January 2019, according to information provided by Assistant Director of Community Development Arlen Eskandari.

The city’s soft story seismic retrofit ordinance targets buildings that have weaker first floors and may be unable to carry the weight of the stories above during an earthquake. This includes many buildings where the first story is held up by thin columns and parking spots are tucked underneath.

Currently, there are around 40 soft-story buildings still in need of retrofits in Beverly Hills, as highlighted by a recent Los Angeles Times map of buildings that are not seismically safe in Los Angeles.

According to Eskandari, retrofits are in the works for 29 of these 40 buildings. These 29 buildings are either awaiting permits, plan review or the start of construction.

“We are working diligently to ensure that all properties comply with the seismic retrofit ordinance to enhance the safety and resilience of our community,” she told the Courier. “Our team is actively monitoring and supporting property owners through each stage of the process to achieve full compliance.”

Only 11 buildings are currently out of compliance with the city’s ordinance, meaning they have not met any of the required milestones towards completing retrofits.

Craig Chamberlain, president of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California, told the Courier this is a pretty impressive compliance rate and ahead of the compliance rate for the city of Los Angeles’s ordinance. His organization has helped dozens of cities across California, including Beverly Hills, develop seismic retrofit ordinances through its Safer Cities program.

“Oftentimes we focus on the negative and I think when you really look at the positive—that we’ve been able to retrofit 200 plus buildings in the city of Beverly Hills —that means thousands of residents are in a much better place now than they would have been if there was never an ordinance in place,” he said. “So, I think it’s absolutely successful.”

Chamberlain said that soft story structures were primarily responsible for deaths during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. This includes the infamous Northridge Meadows Apartment Complex, where 16 people perished.

The city is continuing to work with owners of the 11 buildings that are out of compliance with the ordinance. These owners have received notice to comply letters, followed by courtesy reminder notices and Code Enforcement violation letters, Eskandari said.

While the costs of retrofitting a building can be expensive, Chamberlain said there’s no question that the investment is worth it.

“If you look at the cost to retrofit a building today, compared to what it would cost to repair and rebuild, and the cost of not having the building be occupied after an earthquake, I don’t think those items would be in the same range in the least,” he said.

To help incentivize compliance and assist with costs, the city offered refunds on building permit fees for projects completed within 18 to 24 months of the notice to comply date. It also hosted a retrofit fair in May 2019 to educate building owners on the ordinance’s requirements and connect them with seismic retrofit professionals.

“If applicants have any questions or need guidance throughout the process, they are welcome to contact the city by emailing for assistance,” said Eskandari. “Ensuring the safety and resilience of our buildings is a top priority, and the city is committed to supporting residents in these efforts.”

Below is a list provided by the city of buildings that are awaiting retrofits:

Plans approved, awaiting permits:

• 138 N. Almont Dr., 144 N. Almont Dr., 238 N. Almont Dr.

• 9191 Burton Way

• 248 S. Doheny Dr., 336 S. Doheny Dr., 425 S. Doheny Dr.

• 9966 Durant Dr.

• 133 S. Elm Dr., 155 S. Elm Dr., 357 S. Elm Dr.

• 434 S. Oakhurst Dr., 449 N. Oakhurst Dr., 436 S. Oakhurst Dr.

• 312 S. Reeves Dr., 329 S. Reeves Dr.

• 9925 Robbins Dr.

• 450 S. Rexford Dr.

In plan review process:

• 9428 Charleville Blvd.

• 216 S. Gale Dr., 218 S. Gale Dr., 220 S. Gale Dr.

• 215 N. La Peer Dr., 315 N. La Peer Dr.

• 123 N. Hamilton Dr., 139 N. Hamilton Dr.

• 156 S. Reeves Dr.

• 336 S. Rexford Dr., 337 S. Rexford Dr.

Non-compliant: Have not met any required milestone and are in violation of ordinance:

• 8924 Burton Way

• 205 El Camino Dr.

• 236.5 N. La Peer Dr.

• 144 S. Roxbury Dr.

• 438 S. Oakhurst Dr.

• 240 S. Rexford Dr., 137 S. Rexford Dr., 309 S. Rexford Dr.

• 502 Smithwood Dr.

• 149 S. Spalding Dr., 236 S. Spalding Dr.

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