Our Recommendations to reform policies related to L.A.’s Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings

NDC Construction photo

Thinking Beyond The Ordinance

Creating a framework for reform to ensure economic viability, improve housing security, and foster sustainability

An Omgivning-led white paper report aims to contribute ideas and solutions for Los Angeles' post-earthquake resilience of non-ductile concrete buildings. To better prepare for Southern California’s next big earthquake, we spearheaded a team of stakeholders, including architects, engineers, city agencies and advocacy groups, with a white paper seeking to provide recommendations to reform the City of L.A.’s Non-Ductile Concrete (NDC) Ordinance. Constituting most concrete buildings erected before the 1976 L.A. City Building Code, “Non-Ductile” buildings are often brittle or inflexible due to minimal steel reinforcing, and therefore have not been safely reinforced to sustain earthquake damage. As currently written, L.A.’s NDC Ordinance requires all concrete buildings designed prior to January 13, 1977 to achieve minimum structural requirements within 25 years, or be demolished.

In 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law a historic mandatory retrofit ordinance to make certain that two of L.A.’s most vulnerable building types—NDC buildings and soft story buildings—are strengthened to improve their performance during earthquakes, as well as mitigate hazards from structural deficiencies, reduce lives lost, ensure economic resilience, and preserve affordable housing should “the Big One” strike L.A.

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In an effort to create a framework for continued dialogue with the City and all stakeholders, the Omgivning-led NDC Task Force suggests nearly a dozen policy, administrative, and technical reform goals. Omgivning initiated a working group to help improve LA's Retrofit Program and the City’s NDC Ordinance. Meeting over a span of two years with stakeholders including property owners, developers, structural engineers, general contractors, city agency representatives, and advocacy groups, the NDC Working Group set out to look at the NDC Ordinance in a comprehensive and wholly original way: to analyze current requirements and processes, provide recommendations for improvement, as well as solutions through new reform proposals.

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The recommendations in this White Paper strive to incentivize the necessary work to be done to existing NDC buildings, help to offset high costs, and increase the percentage of completed projects. These proposed solutions position the City of L.A. to further protect public health and safety, increase access to affordable housing, meet targets for L.A.’s Green New Deal, and contribute to the future economic growth of the city.

To read Thinking Beyond the Ordinance, Non-Ductile Concrete White Paper, download it here.

Code Reform, LA County