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New law could require earthquake retrofits for 15,000 buildings

Actually constructing houses or other buildings in California isn’t so different from constructing them anywhere else in the country, but the construction industry has concerns that are unusual anywhere else. Chief among these is earthquake safety. California’s peculiar geography means that construction has to take into account safety issues that aren’t a serious consideration in other parts of the country. As a result, construction law in California often involves earthquake safety standards.

Of course, many people in the construction industry have argued that California’s earthquake safety regulations sometimes go beyond what’s needed for safety and simply make it harder to do business in the state. That debate is sure to heat up again as a new law is set to go into effect.

The law, expected to be passed by the Los Angeles City Council, will require approximately 15,000 buildings in California’s largest city to undergo retrofitting to make them safer in the event of an earthquake. Retrofitting can cost as much as $130,000 for a wood-frame building. For a larger, concrete building, the costs can run in the millions of dollars.

Both city officials and building owners have said they see the need for retrofits, but building owners argue that the law will put them out of business if it is not implemented carefully. Under the law, which had not yet been passed at the time of this writing, wood-frame buildings will have seven years to complete the retrofits, while concrete buildings will have 25 years.

There are many legal concerns in any kind of construction project. Contractors, developers, landlords and others in the real estate and construction industries need the help of lawyers who understand the issues particular to construction law, and particular to California.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “L.A. City Council could pass landmark quake retrofit law today,” Rong Gong Lin II, Rosanna Xia and Doug Smith, Oct. 9, 2015