Next Public Meeting on Earthquake Retrofit Costs Takes Place Tomorrow

A large number of West Hollywood renters are expected to show up tomorrow for one of two community meetings about paying for earthquake retrofits that are scheduled for May.

Wednesday’s meeting Is at 7 p.m. at the community meeting room at West Hollywood Library, which is at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Parking is free in the adjacent five-story structure with a ticket validated at the meeting. The second meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Plummer Park’s Fiesta Hall at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd.

Last year, the City Council adopted two ordinances requiring that buildings determined to be at risk of damage by an earthquake be “retrofitted” to reduce the likelihood of that damage. The issue now is who — the apartment building owner and/or the building’s tenants – will pay the cost of the retrofitting, which could range from $100,000 to more than a million dollars, depending on the size of the building and its structural issues. Lobbied by condominium owners, the City Council has exempted condo buildings from any retrofit requirements.

A collapsed soft-story apartment building after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The city hired an engineering firm that identified 820 buildings in West Hollywood that are possibly at risk from an earthquake. Whether those buildings actually are at risk won’t be determined until their owners hire someone to examine them. The city also held several earlier meetings to discuss who would pay for the costs of retrofits, none of which were well attended because the city refused to release a list of the possibly at-risk buildings. That city finally released that list last month.

Since then, the newly formed West Hollywood Renters Alliance has been active in encouraging renters, who make up 78% of the city’s population, to turn out and participate in discussions about paying for the retrofits.

In a recent email to WHRA members, Wesley Bridle, the alliance’s project director, acknowledged that its members were divided on the issue at a recent meeting.

“Some of our members see the cost as a form of ‘insurance’ against their building being red tagged where landlords are under no obligation to find that renter a home,” Bridle said. “Other members feel that if we are going to pay for the equity in our buildings then we should receive equity in the building. Both sides bring up great points.”

The options the city is considering include setting a limit on the monthly amount one’s rent could be increased, limiting the period in which the increase is active, and barring landlords from passing along the increase at all.

On Thursday, the city’s Rent Stabilization Commission will hear from a subcommittee that it established to look at alternatives for paying for seismic retrofits. Any proposals eventually will have to go before Rent Stabilization before going before the City Council for final approval. That commission will meet at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., at 7 p.m.

More information about the issue is available on the city’s website and a list of the at-risk buildings and a more detailed description of the issues can be found on WEHOville.


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carleton cronin
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carleton cronin

Some fifteen years ago we had our house bolted to the foundation, added cripple walls and additional piers at a cost of about $1500. We were unaware at the time that our house – and so much of the city – is situated on a an extreme liquifaction zone. Perhaps we should have added pontoons as well. Seems only wise to do what can be done to reduce the possibility of harm to residents and damage to one’s abode.

Larry Block
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Larry Block

The idea of renters getting equity for retrofit costs is ridiculous. Are same renters going to pay the proportionate property taxes every six months? Cost of improvements will lead to assessments that will increase property taxes on a property owner with no offsetting rent increases. Let’s think of it another way- rent is cheaper in a older building and much more expensive in new developments. The renter needs to do their due dilegence before renting if they are worried about pass thru offsets which are already part of existing law. The long term smart renter should be more secure in… Read more »

Randy
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Randy

Larry, I moved to West Hollywood at the age of 25, as a lot of young people do (many, even younger than that). Do you think I had any clue what a “pass thru offset” was? Did anyone mention such a thing to me during the rental application, when looking for places, etc.? A lot of people are going to be surprised by this situation, because they didn’t know such a thing exists, or that earthquake retrofitting might someday increase their cost of living. That said, I don’t know whether any portion of these costs should be passed to tenants,… Read more »