SDCI is celebrating a major milestone on the pathway to improving Seattle’s earthquake safety. On September 26, 2023, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted 5-0 to refer Resolution 32111 to a Council vote. This resolution supports the development of a voluntary seismic retrofit ordinance that will establish a minimum seismic safety standard for the retrofit of unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings. URM buildings are classic red brick buildings, generally constructed before 1945, and are prone to collapse in an earthquake. Seattle has 1,100 URM buildings and an 86% chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years. Adopting a mandatory URM retrofit ordinance continues to be the City’s long-term goal. However, adding a short-term goal to adopt a voluntary URM retrofit ordinance provides assurance to URM building owners that by retrofitting to the established standard, they will be compliant with future mandatory requirements. Resolution 32111 is scheduled for a vote by full Council on October 10.
In June, SDCI conducted two public webinars on the draft Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Retrofit Technical Standard. This document is the first step in establishing minimum seismic standards for the earthquake retrofit of Seattle’s 1,100 vintage brick buildings which are prone to collapse in an earthquake due to lack of structural reinforcements. The draft URM Retrofit Technical Standard will inform the future mandatory retrofit ordinance. Be sure to check out the slides and recordings from these presentations.
To support building owners that are eager to begin the retrofit process, SDCI is moving forward with adopting components of the draft URM Retrofit Technical Standard with Director’s Rule 6-2023, Alternate Method for the Seismic Improvement of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings (URMs). The draft Director’s Rule is available now for public comment.
After several years of collaborating with seismologists, geologists, and geotechnical and structural engineers, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) is sharing its draft Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Technical Standard. This document is the first step in establishing minimum seismic standards for the earthquake retrofit of Seattle’s 1,100 vintage brick buildings which are prone to collapse in an earthquake due to lack of structural reinforcements.
In 2021, an effort spearheaded by the Alliance for Safety, Affordability, and Preservation (ASAP!) and Councilmember Herbold resulted in the passing of Joint Resolution 32033. That resolution declared the intent of City Council and the Mayor to establish a mandatory retrofit program and directed SDCI to develop a retrofit standard. While a mandatory ordinance is still a few years away, this Technical Standard will serve as a voluntary option for URM owners wanting to retrofit their building. This Technical Standard will be used to develop a future mandatory retrofit ordinance.
The City of Seattle is moving forward with the process to require the earthquake retrofit of its 1100 unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs) which are prone to collapse in an earthquake. In 2021, City Council passed Resolution 32033 declaring the intent to develop a mandatory earthquake retrofit ordinance with a resource program to support URM building owners and tenants.
On January 12, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), in partnership with the Alliance for Safety, Affordability, and Preservation (ASAP!), hosted a meeting to discuss the timeline and next steps needed to be successful in ordinance adoption.
On May 23, SDCI, along with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), released the National Development Council’s (NDC) report to the City of Seattle, Funding URM Retrofits.
We will be reconvening the URM Policy Committee on December 6, 2016 in room 4080 at the Seattle Municipal Tower. The committee will discuss the results of the URM inventory validation and hear updates since the last meeting in April 2014. This is the first in a series of 3 meetings to finalize the committee’s January 2013 draft recommendations on a retrofit policy for URMs.
DPD continues to work on the Unreinforced Masonry (URM) policy to develop final recommendations for a URM seismic retrofit program. The URM Policy Committee prepared draft recommendations in January 2013. The department did community outreach during that year and hired a consultant for a benefits cost analysis. We then reconvened the committee to discuss the results of the outreach and consultant work. At the last meeting in April 2014, the committee asked us to validate DPD’s existing building inventory of URMs in Seattle to provide more information for their final recommendations.
DPD continues to evaluate policy and program development for an unreinforced masonry (URM) seismic retrofit program. The URM Policy Committee asked DPD to validate the inventory list of URMs identified by DPD before the committee finalizes its policy recommendations. DPD is in the process of hiring a structural engineer to do the validation to confirm that the buildings on the list are URMs and to add any additional URM buildings that may be identified.
DPD has hired a consultant team to perform a benefits cost analysis on the unreinforced masonry (URM) retrofit policy options in the draft recommendations prepared by the URM Policy Committee in January 2013. The analysis will provide information on financing and regulatory implementation options that better align benefits and costs of a possible mandatory retrofit program for URMs. The report will provide more information to the Policy Committee before it makes its final recommendations, and will inform decisions by the Mayor and City Council on a mandatory retrofit program.
DPD received draft recommendations from the Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Policy Committee in January 2013 for a mandatory seismic retrofit policy for URM buildings. The committee requested a cost-benefit analysis on alternatives. The purpose of the analysis is to provide information for final recommendations by the URM Policy Committee and to inform decisions by the Mayor and City Council on a mandatory retrofit program.