Unlike Florida, California leaves the safety of aging high-rises largely in owners’ hands – Press Enterprise

Despite the Earth’s tendency to cramp underneath, California has sprouted about 20,000 buildings over 14 floors high. International data.

Skyline photo along Spectrum Center Drive in Irvine in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

They are office buildings and residential towers. They are in Long Beach and Los Angeles, Irvine and Auckland, San Jose and San Francisco, Glendale and Riverside.

Some of the oldest have risen majestically over the landscape for 100 years, withstanding earthquakes, weather, and time. But what’s happening below?

In California, you don’t need a government agency to investigate the bones of a dilapidated skyscraper to ensure the safety of the skyscraper. When a local city or county issues a certificate of residence (which means the final step in the building process, which means that people can move in), the government’s work is basically complete.It’s up to Building owners and residents to secure skyscrapers are structurally sound over the years, Can lead to conflicts. Residents opposed the large amount of special valuations that could reach $ 100,000 per unit, which had been needed to strengthen aging infrastructure.

Here, California’s reputation as a hyper regulator is based on myths, not facts.

Some Florida counties are much more rigorous, requiring inspection of dilapidated skyscrapers at the age of 40 and every 10 years thereafter. Of course, the re-examination requirements do not guarantee safety. A few years after the warning about cracks and leaks in the garage, Champlain Towers South Shattered at nightAbout 140 people died when they went to bed on June 24th.Homeowners Association I knew there was a problem for years, But couldn’t gather consensus to do a lot about it.

Many wonder when high-rise California residents look at floor-to-ceiling windows and high-rise workers return to their offices. In the Golden State, is it wise to have a Florida-style re-examination regimen for a dilapidated tower?

“Such a rare event”

Engineers say California has some of the country’s most stringent building requirements due to the perches on so many seismic fault lines. However, there is always room for improvement.

Rescue workers will search the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo in Miami’s surfside area on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (AP photo / LynnSladky)

“Failures like those in Miami are very rare,” said Henry M. Koffman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC.

“Do you need a test? Yes, we should be tested. In the United States, one in a million cases may be found, but one in a million can save lives. This is a balancing act and a trade-off. There are thousands of structures — you need an army to go around and inspect them all. Who is willing to pay for it? “

Ten years ago, Kofman was summoned by the Homeowners Association to inspect a dilapidated skyscraper in Westwood. I had the same problem as Champlain Towers South. Structural cracks were found in the pool above the double-decker garage.

The repair cost more than $ 10 million. Residents barked, but eventually agreed to an expensive special assessment. He hopes Champlan South can achieve similar results.

“When I first saw the picture, it looked like a blast. Oklahoma City. Domestic or international terrorism,” he said.

Irvine skyscraper

Irvine is at the heart of Orange County’s growing high-rise movement. In Irvine, more than 12 buildings with 11 to 20 floors have emerged like mushrooms over the years. Irvine’s oldest skyscrapers were built in the mid-1980s, according to emporis.com, a database of architectural information around the world. At about the same time, Champlain Towers South was built. Irvine skyscrapers, if located in Florida instead of California, are preparing to submit to the city a document documenting a 40-year inspection.

The replacement of the recently completed Gerald Desmond Bridge seen from the west in August 2020 changed the downtown skyline of Long Beach. (Photo by Howard Freshman, Contribution Photographer)

Jesse Cardosa, the city’s building and safety manager, finds it surprising that there are no similar requirements here, given the strength of California’s building code. But that doesn’t mean that the officials here are in the dark as these buildings mature.

City inspectors visit skyscrapers several times a year to monitor tenant improvement projects, he said. It allows them to look at the building and find obvious problems.

The fire department also regularly inspects skyscrapers to ensure they comply with fire safety regulations and warns city authorities in the event of structural problems. But Chamber South suggests that more can be done.

“The whole country is looking away and saying,’Why does this happen?'” Cardosa said. “Many suggestions and amendments are currently under consideration.”

Whose job is it?

California Building Standards Act is always an ongoing task. Currently, many updates to the rules governing electrical, mechanical, plumbing, construction, and other codes are being drafted for adoption, which takes place every three years.

California Department of Internal Affairs and Communications spokeswoman Jennifer Iida has no state-wide legislation or code that requires a compulsory structural / engineering review after a period of time in a skyscraper, and there are currently no proposals.

“Post-occupancy inspection programs are generally not a requirement of building codes,” she said in an email.

later The collapse of the balcony killed six people in Berkeley in 2017. However, the state legislature has approved a new law requiring regular inspections of most apartments with external stairs and balconies.

Riverside skyline seen from Mount Rubidoux. (File photo)

It is not the state’s Biliwick responsible for reviewing building plans, issuing building permits, and declaring structures that are safe and ready to occupy. Work in the building and planning departments of more than 480 cities and 58 counties in California.

Those cities and counties can decide to adopt a stricter Florida-style re-examination program for their older skyscrapers if they so choose.

“California has a state building code, but enforcement applies to cities. Local governments can adopt amendments, and many can adopt amendments, but at least the same as state requirements. It must be as rigorous, “said Thomas A. Sabol, a professor of civil engineering and environmental engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, in an email.

“Most of the methods of forced re-inspection are once, except for buildings subject to seismic renovations, such as non-ductile concrete buildings in LA, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, or Tuck Under / Soft Story apartments in these cities. No. A residence certificate has been issued.

“Experience in examining existing buildings shows that there are not many examples of significant structural damage or distress in the absence of external causes (such as earthquakes), but this does not mean that it does not exist. No. Most of the buildings that I think need corrective action are earthquake-deficient buildings. “

Some local civil servants are creepy enough to start rolling the ball.Proposed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn Plan to evaluate all skyscrapers in LA County that are not incorporated, This will be discussed at this week’s supervisory board.

Newport Beach house with fashion island skyline in the background

Koffman of the USC has a video of the collapse of the Chamber of Towers and a preliminary look at the state of the garage. He suspects a well-documented issue of water intrusion, and the pool deck will eventually appear as the culprit for its collapse. He also hopes that tragedy will cause lively debate, thorough investigation, and perhaps change.

“Whenever an incident like this happens, we learn from it,” he said.

Staff writer Jeff Collins contributed to this report.

Unlike Florida, California leaves the safety of aging high-rises largely in owners’ hands – Press Enterprise Source link Unlike Florida, California leaves the safety of aging high-rises largely in owners’ hands – Press Enterprise

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