West Hollywood condo owners have been exempted from the proposed mandatory seismic retrofits in West Hollywood. At a meeting on June 19th, the decision was announced that condominium owners were not subject to the mandatory ordinance. West Hollywood condominium owners strongly objected to the mandatory ordinance, citing in particular that the costs to retrofit would be particularly high for them. Condo owners came together, sending e-mails and letters to West Hollywood council members, to argue against the mandate. It was argued that condos should be treated as single family homes, which are also exempt from this mandate. Another claim of West Hollywood condominium owners was that the 1994 Northridge earthquake did not cause excessive damages to their building. They reasoned that since their building withstood this quake, it should be voluntary that they retrofit their buildings. Many condo owners cited that the retrofit would force them to move out of their homes that they had lived in for decades.
Residents of Sierra Towers, a 31 story high rise in West Hollywood, were particularly vocal and introduced a cost estimate to city council. This cost estimate stated that the cost to retrofit alone the Sierra Towers building would be nearly $31 million dollars, a cost that would be split between 145 units (roughly $213,000 per homeowner). This does not include the cost of asbestos removal, displacement, and “repairs to high-end finishes”, according to Sierra Towers resident Jim Goodrich. This cost estimate was calculated by West Hollywood residents based on a cost study that was done by the city of West Hollywood with the help of professional engineers. However, it is very difficult to estimate cost for seismic retrofits because each building is different and may require more or less reinforcement than another. Condo owners certainly seemed sympathetic to the intention of the seismic retrofit program, but were unwilling to get behind the costs to do so. Soft story apartment buildings in West Hollywood will still be required to follow the mandatory retrofit ordinance, which will go into effect in April 2018.