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.
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.