Seismic Retrofit Program

Earthquake preparedness is a part of life for Southern Californians. Damage to vulnerable buildings, physical injury, and even death are the most apparent threats from earthquakes. There can also be significant economic damage in their aftermath.

Recent earthquakes have shown that some older buildings may be at risk during future earthquakes because of construction standards at the time they were built. Strengthening our buildings by retrofitting is the best way to save lives and infrastructure during an earthquake.

On March 28, 2017, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a comprehensive seismic retrofit ordinance that will encompass 20 years of work to increase safety of earthquake-vulnerable buildings in the event of a large quake. Nearly 2,000 commercial and multi-family residential buildings made a list of sites that need to be assessed for possible structural improvement. Participation in the program is mandatory as the ordinance went into effect in May 2017, with notices to affected building owners being mailed in phases.

Seismic Retrofit Notices

The City of Santa Monica’s Seismic Retrofit Program has not yet commenced.  Starting in mid-August, notices are being mailed out to affected property owners informing them of the requirements of the Program with compliance deadlines and appeal procedures.  All notices for this program will be sent by the Building and Safety Division on City letterhead, in City envelopes, and will come from the Building Officer.  Any notices or advertisements sent by private companies are not sponsored by or representative of the City of Santa Monica.

[New!] Simplified Plan Check Process for Soft-Story Seismic Retrofits

The City of Santa Monica’s Building & Safety Division is implementing a simplified process for soft-story seismic retrofit building permit applications. The new Soft-Story Seismic Retrofit supplemental application, simplifies a project’s plan check by removing the need for review by the City Planning and/or Mobility Divisions for most projects.

The Soft-Story Seismic Retrofit supplemental application is completed in conjunction with the City’s regular Plan Check application and includes a series of questions about the project to determine whether the project qualifies for the exception from plan check review by City Planning and/or Mobility.

Further, for tenant-occupied residential properties, a simplified Soft-Story specific Means & Methods form is provided with the new application to replace the standard long form Means & Methods Plan. An applicant is only required to sign the Soft-Story Means & Methods form  1) acknowledging the tenant protections during construction and tenant relocation requirements mandated by the Santa Monica Municipal Code (SMMC), and 2) agreeing to abide by these, and all other applicable requirements of the SMMC.

The simplified Soft-Story Seismic Retrofit supplemental application and Mean’s & Method form will be available beginning February 20, 2018.  For further information regarding the details of the application process for soft-story seismic retrofits, or other questions related to the City’s Seismic Retrofit ordinance, please visit or email [email protected].

Potentially Vulnerable Buildings in Santa Monica

Inclusion of a building on this list is not confirmation that the building is structurally deficient, hazardous or unsafe.

These buildings display characteristics such as age, appearance, construction material, method of design and construction, and structural records that may indicate a need for strengthening in preparation for an earthquake.

Buildings appearing on this list will receive notice from the City of Santa Monica to complete a structural analysis. Buildings found to be non-compliant with established standards for earthquake resistance will be ordered to strengthen the building through a seismic retrofit.

Explore our searchable map.

Explore our Open Data site with a downloadable list of properties on our Seismic Retrofit Map.

Seismic Retrofit Map screenshot

Compliance Time Frame

The following table shows the five types of buildings and compliance time frames. These buildings exhibit characteristics that make them less resilient to earthquakes. Please note that compliance dates will be calculated from the date the owner receives notice from the Building Officer. See the proposed schedule for notifying owners.

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