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Pasadena Passes Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Ordinance

Joining cities across the west coast, Pasadena will require owners of wood-frame, soft-story structures to meet minimum earthquake resiliency standards.

Owners of Wood-Frame, Soft Story Structures to Receive Compliance Notices from City

Joining the growing list of west-coast cities with mandatory seismic retrofit programs, Pasadena approved soft-story retrofit Ordinance No. 7345, effective June 24, 2019. The ordinance, like similar laws in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica and other cities in active seismic zones, establishes minimum standards for earthquake resilience and requires that buildings with soft, weak or open-front walls be evaluated and structurally altered as necessary to comply with those standards.

Ordinance 7345 applies to wood frame, soft-story structures built prior to 1976, excluding single-family residences. The term “soft-story” refers to one level of a building that is significantly more flexible or weak in lateral load resistance than the stories above it and the floors or the foundation below it, typically associated with large openings in the walls or an exceptionally tall story height in comparison with adjacent stories. City officials estimate about 500 such buildings exist in Pasadena, many of which are multifamily properties with “tuck-under” parking: open parking on ground level with dwelling units above.  

The City will notify owners of subject properties of their obligation to comply, and owners will have one year from the notification to submit a screening form to the City. The screening form must be completed by a licensed engineer and will state whether the structure conforms to the standards set forth in Ordinance 7345. If the structure does not conform to these standards, the owner will have seven years from the notification to complete a retrofit.  

You can read the full text of Pasadena Ordinance 7345 here