Chapter 15.24


15.24.010    Purpose.

15.24.020    Definitions.

15.24.030    Scope of program.

15.24.040    Owner notification.

15.24.050    Building categories and implementation schedule.

15.24.060    Structural repair standards.

15.24.070    Engineering reports.

15.24.080    Responsibilities of the building owners – Notification of building tenants.

15.24.090    Warning statement.

15.24.100    Remedies.

*Prior legislation: Ord. 1345.

15.24.010 Purpose.

It is found and declared that in the event of a strong or moderate local earthquake, loss of life or serious injury may result from damage or collapse of unreinforced masonry buildings in the city. The purpose of this chapter is to promote public safety by establishing a set of structural repair standards to be used to strengthen unreinforced masonry buildings and require owners to make their buildings conform to those standards within a reasonable period of time. The provisions of this chapter are minimum standards for structural seismic resistance established primarily to reduce the risk of life loss or injury but will not necessarily prevent loss of life or injury or prevent earthquake damage to an existing building which complies with these standards. This seismic hazard reduction program is consistent with California Health and Safety Code Sections 19160 through 19168 and Government Code Sections 8875 through 8878 et seq. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.010)

15.24.020 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter the words and phrases defined in this section shall have the following meanings:

A. “Bearing wall” means any wall supporting a floor or roof where the total superimposed load exceeds 100 pounds per linear foot or any unreinforced masonry wall supporting its own weight when over six feet in height.

B. “Civil engineer” or “structural engineer” means a licensed civil or structural engineer registered by the state pursuant to the rules and regulations of Title 16, Chapter 5 of the California Administrative Code.

C. “Occupants” means the total maximum occupancy load of a building determined by either: (1) Table 33-A of the Uniform Building Code, or (2) the actual maximum number of occupants in the building as certified by the building owner and current tenants.

D. “Story” means that portion of a building included between the upper surface of any floor and the upper surface of the floor next above, except that the topmost story shall be that portion of a building included between the upper surface of the topmost floor and the ceiling or roof above.

E. “Unreinforced masonry (URM) building” means any building containing walls constructed wholly or partially with any of the following materials and containing less than 50 percent of the minimum reinforcing steel required by the 1988 Uniform Building Code Section 2407(h)(4)(B):

1. Unreinforced brick masonry;

2. Unreinforced concrete masonry;

3. Hollow clay tile;

4. Adobe or unburned clay masonry. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.020)

15.24.030 Scope of program.

A. Applicability. All unreinforced masonry buildings identified by the city are subject to the requirements of this chapter.

B. Exceptions.

1. Any building used wholly for residential purposes containing five or less living units;

2. Any building used solely for storage that has no permanent occupancy and is not located adjacent to a public way nor adjacent to other occupied structures;

3. Any building that is totally vacant.

C. Buildings currently conforming to exceptions number 2 and 3 of subsection B of this section will be subject to the provisions of this chapter at the time they are occupied or used for purposes other than those exempted. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.030)

15.24.040 Owner notification.

The owners of unreinforced masonry buildings determined to be within the scope of this chapter will be notified in writing within six weeks of the enactment of the ordinance codified in this chapter by the city building official that they are required to submit engineering reports, submit plans for and complete any necessary structural repairs within the time limits established in LMC 15.24.050(B) or the conditions of LMC 15.24.050(C). (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.040)

15.24.050 Building categories and implementation schedule.

A. Building Categories. Three categories of unreinforced masonry buildings are established to prioritize their need for remedial action to reduce potential hazards.

1. Category I buildings are those which have an average mortar strength of less than 30 pounds per square inch (psi) as determined by the testing methods described in Appendix B, attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter and on file in the office of the city clerk. Classification of a building into this category will be made after the city has received and reviewed the test results from the required engineering reports of buildings in Categories II and III.

2. Category II buildings are all those which have over one story above grade, any one-story building containing over 50 occupants and all buildings with one or more walls of hollow clay tile masonry regardless of story height.

3. Category III buildings are those not defined as either Category I or II buildings.

B. Implementation Schedule. The owners of buildings in Categories I through III must take the appropriate actions to comply with the requirements and time schedule set forth below:


Completion Date


Complete structural repairs by December 31, 1998


Complete structural repairs by June 30, 1999


Complete structural repairs by December 31, 2001

C. Additional Requirements. If an owner or tenant proposes a change in use that causes the occupant load of the building to increase more than 20 percent above the present or last known use in the building, the building must be structurally strengthened according to Appendix A, attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter and on file in the office of the city clerk, prior to the establishment of that use. The basis for measuring this increase is to compare the current occupant load based on Table 33-A of the Uniform Building Code using the distribution of square footage of the building’s area assigned to specific uses (e.g., retail, office storage, etc.) with the proposed distribution of uses and their respective areas.

D. If an owner or tenant proposes improvements to a building that exceed 35 percent of the replacement value, the structural strengthening required by Appendix A must accompany those improvements. Building replacement value will be computed using the costs per square foot for the type of construction and use in the building based on the values published in the most recent edition of the Building Standards Magazine containing these values.

E. An application for a demolition permit of any building within the scope of this chapter must include an engineering report as described in LMC 15.24.070 and also include a construction cost estimate for the structural improvements recommended in the report. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.050)

15.24.060 Structural repair standards.

The procedures and engineering standards establishing a minimum level of structural strengthening required for all unreinforced masonry buildings within the scope of this chapter are set forth in Appendix A of the ordinance codified in this chapter and on file in the office of the city clerk. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.060)

15.24.070 Engineering reports.

A. Preparation of Reports. Building owners shall employ a civil or structural engineer to perform the necessary investigation and analysis of their buildings as outlined in this section.

B. Purpose. The purpose of this section is to investigate in a thorough and unambiguous fashion the building’s structural systems that resist the forces imposed by earthquakes and to determine if any individual portion or combination of these systems is inadequate to prevent a structural failure based on the criteria contained in Appendix B, attached to the ordinance codified in this chapter and on file in the office of the city clerk.

C. Format of the Report. The following is a basic outline of the format each engineering report should follow. This format is not a rigid set of requirements, but instead provides a framework within which individual approaches to assembling the required information may be accomplished while also allowing the city to evaluate the completeness of each report.

1. General Information. A description of the building including:

a. The street address;

b. The type of occupancy and uses within the building;

c. Plans and elevations showing the types and extent of lateral force resisting elements in the building;

d. A description of the type of construction materials used in the structural systems and information regarding their present conditions; and

e. The date of original construction, if known.

2. Investigation and Evaluation of Structural Systems. The items to be investigated and methods of investigation and analysis are contained in Appendix B of the ordinance codified in this chapter and on file in the office of the city clerk. Calculations and supporting documents prepared in this process shall be made a part of the report.

3. Test Reports. All field and laboratory test results shall be included in the report. A statement regarding the significance of the test results shall be made for each type of structural system or feature tested.

4. Conclusions and Recommendations. Based on the investigation and analysis of the building’s seismic resisting structural systems, a statement shall be provided to explain in lay terms the types of deficiencies discovered, the potential consequences of those deficiencies in the event of an earthquake, and a recommendation for remedial actions to correct them.

D. Exceptions and Alternatives. Exceptions to the specific items required to be included in the engineering reports may be granted by the city building official upon review of a written request from the engineer preparing the report. Such a request must provide evidence that adequate information concerning the required item(s) can be determined by alternate means, or that a satisfactory conclusion on the building’s seismic resistance can be reached without following one or more of the procedures contained in Appendix B. The purpose of granting such exceptions shall be to reduce the costs of disruption that would result from taking required actions, when it can be shown that they are unnecessary to provide information available by other equivalent means. The decision of the building official in granting exceptions is final.

E. Review of Reports. The city shall review each report for compliance with the procedures set forth in Appendix B and those of this section. Reports not in compliance with these requirements will be required to be corrected and resubmitted for review. The in-place shear test results will be the basis for classifying buildings into Category I. The city will notify building owners of that determination within six weeks of the city receiving a report indicating average shear strength of less than 30 pounds per square inch.

F. Availability of Reports. Reports submitted to the city will be made available for review to an interested party. Copies, however, will not be provided without the written consent of the engineer and owner. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.070)

15.24.080 Responsibilities of the building owners – Notification of building tenants.

A building owner shall notify all tenants, in writing, that a structural investigation has been performed and that the report is available for review at the city building inspection office. This notice must be sent within 30 days of the date the report is submitted to the city. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.080)

15.24.090 Warning statement.

Any building owner who has received notice from the city that the building is constructed of unreinforced masonry and has not made the required repairs shall post in a conspicuous place at the entrance of the building, on a sign not less than five inches by seven inches the following statement, printed in not less than 30-point bold type:

This is an unreinforced masonry building. Unreinforced masonry buildings may be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake.

This section shall not apply to unreinforced masonry construction if the walls are nonload bearing with steel or concrete frame or to buildings that have been structurally repaired pursuant to this chapter. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.090)

15.24.100 Remedies.

It shall be unlawful for the owner of a building identified as being included in the scope of this chapter to fail to complete the necessary structural corrections within the time period specified in LMC 15.24.050 or comply with any other requirements of this chapter. A building owner violating the requirements of this chapter shall be guilty of an infraction with penalties as set forth in Chapter 1.16 LMC. In addition, if a building owner violates the requirements of this chapter, the city may seek additional remedies, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

A. The city may seek injunctive relief in superior court.

B. The city may designate the building a substandard building and may commence proceedings under Health and Safety Code Section 17980, and other relevant provisions of state law, to abate the violation by repair, rehabilitation, vacation, or demolition of the building.

C. The city may institute proceedings in superior court, pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 17980.1, to appoint a receiver to remove or remedy the condition and obtain a lien on the property. (Ord. 1833 § 9, 2007; Ord. 1517 § 1, 1998. Formerly 15.64.100)