Soft-Story Building Retrofit Program

The City of Carpinteria is proposing a Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Program for Existing Wood-Frame Buildings with Soft, Weak, or Open-Front Walls.

The draft Ordinance is scheduled to be considered by the City Council on January 8, 2024. You may review the draft Ordinance at the following link (please note that it is still subject to change): Draft Ordinance

More information about the meeting will be provided in the agenda that will be posted on the City’s Agendas & Meetings Webpage by Thursday, January 4th. The agenda will also have information on how to participate in the public meeting.

Background Information

With an aging building stock in a seismically active region, Carpinteria has identified the need for a local ordinance requiring seismic retrofits to certain categories of potentially vulnerable buildings. One such category is known as “wood soft-story buildings”. Wood soft-story buildings are wood-framed buildings with more than one story that typically have extensive ground story windows, garage doors, or open-air spaces (such as covered parking) with little or no solid walls. In the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, wood soft-story buildings accounted for significant human loss and property damage. As such, the City is considering adoption of an Ordinance that would require certain wood soft-story buildings to be retrofitted. Some of the elements of the proposed Ordinance include:

  • Applies to wood soft-story buildings for which construction permits were applied for before January 1, 1991;
  • Requires owners of applicable buildings to have a structural engineer review the building design and recommend retrofit based on the City’s Guidelines;
  • Timelines for when required retrofits must be completed; and
  • Exempts single family residences and multiple-family residential parcels containing four or fewer units.

Most soft-story buildings were constructed between the 1920s and 1970s. City staff has conducted an informal survey and estimates at least 15 soft-story buildings containing approximately 300 residential units exist in Carpinteria.

This program previously came to the City Council in 2019 and 2020, but final approval was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the January 27, 2020 City Council meeting, staff was directed to hold a public workshop before bringing the ordinance back to Council for final adoption. A workshop was held on Saturday, February 22, 2020, during which approximately 40 people attended, asked questions, and made comments.

City staff updated the draft Ordinance in November-December 2023 and is proposing to bring it back to City Council for a “new” first reading on January 8, 2024. Should you have any questions about this proposed Ordinance, please contact Chief Building Inspector & Plans Examiner Dan Chepley at (805) 880-3409 or by email at: