Twenty-two years after the Northridge earthquake, Soft-Story building contractors began renovating buildings in Los Angeles city. On January 17, 1994, the Northridge Earthquake hit Los Angeles at a 6.7 magnitude. The length of the tremor and the aftershocks that followed stunned the city, and people fearing for their lives went to sleep in parks and other outdoor areas.
This natural disaster resulted in the deaths of 16 people as a direct result of outdated building codes and most casualties came from those who resided on the first floor of old buildings that could not withstand such strong waves of quaking.
It took Los Angeles two years to get back on its feet. One of the questions raised from this terrible ordeal was: “Why didn’t some of the older buildings hold as well as the neighboring newer buildings?” Those older buildings were soft-story buildings, categorized as having a weak first floor with much less rigid structure elements than the newer buildings’ building code requirements.
The Soft Story Buildings are susceptible to earthquake damage due to their large windows, wide doors and open elevations at the ground floor parking level with no shear panels to resist movement.
The city of Santa Monica, located 22 miles away from the Northridge earthquake epicenter, sustained major damage to its soft story buildings and immediately adopted an ordinance to retrofit the buildings in the city.
Although the Northridge earthquake tragedy happened in 1994 the soft-story ordinance was recently adopted by the Los Angeles City Council, which goes to show just how much the infamous quake is still affecting us today.
Soft-Story building contractors in Los Angeles who worked on buildings damaged by the Northridge earthquake and worked on similar seismic ordinances in Santa Monica and in Los Angeles will tell you that this ordinance is a much-needed Correction course and the recent vote by the Los Angeles City Council to have the cost of this seismic upgrade shared by buildings’ tenants, as well as owners, only validates the need for these repairs.