Los Angeles landlords, tenants to split earthquake retrofit costs

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Who should pay for earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles? Landlords and tenants will need to split the bill, according to an ordinance approved by the City Council. (KABC)

Who should pay for earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles? Landlords and tenants will need to split the bill, according to an ordinance approved by the City Council.

"That's the money that we pay to rent that building. That includes all of what we need - the utility, the safety aspect of it, that's why we pay rent," said Chris Russell, a Los Angeles-area tenant.

Some renters are not happy with the L.A. City Council's tentative decision to share retrofitting costs 50-50. The agreement passed unanimously on Wednesday.

"The reason it's critical is because our housing stock is in danger and in jeopardy and we could lose all of our affordable housing with one tremor," said Councilman Gil Cedillo, head of the committee that mediated the plan.

The retrofitting ordinance targets more than 1,000 concrete buildings and more than 13,000 soft-story structures with weak first floors across Los Angeles.

Estimates for upgrades for soft-first-story structures range from $60,000 to $130,000 per apartment building. Taller concrete buildings can cost millions of dollars to strengthen.

Tenants will not be required to pay a large lump sum.

"There's a cap that is involved at $38 a month, but that's the maximum. It could be less," Cedillo said.

The ordinance also applies to tenants who have a rent-control agreement.

"Usually as a property owner we're on the other side. We're always getting the bill from City Council. But in this case, they're really helping us a lot. Anytime I don't have to pay for something or I can pass on a cost to the tenant, that's awesome," said Clint Arthur, a property owner.

The Los Angeles City Attorney will take a look at the ordinance language and the City Council will have another vote at a later meeting.

Studies estimate that a massive earthquake in the Los Angeles area could kill up to 18,000 people and cause some $250 billion in damage. Sixteen people were killed in the collapse of a soft-first-story building during the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
newsearthquakesafetyLos Angeles
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