About 6,000 buildings in L.A. are at risk in an earthquake. Do you live or work in one of them?

Blueprint-style animation of a building shaking
(Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times)

Search this map of condo, apartment and office buildings that may still need a seismic retrofit, and learn more about each city’s earthquake ordinances.



Note to readers

Through continued reporting, the Times learned that data provided by the city of Los Angeles contains numerous errors. In response to our inquiries, city building officials are working to update their databases. Once the Times receives corrected data, we will update this page. In the meantime, please email us at datagraphics@caltimes.com to report any information you suspect is incorrect.

If your home or office building was constructed before 1996, it may be in need of a seismic retrofit.

A retrofit strengthens earthquake-vulnerable buildings to better withstand shaking, making them less likely to collapse or be damaged. Depending on the type of building, fixes include adding support — such as steel frames or beams — installing new concrete walls or repairing vulnerable welds.

Each local government independently decides whether older buildings need to be retrofitted or demolished. To assess the properties, cities can survey buildings and decide which retrofits are required. Most cities in Southern California that have recently passed retrofit laws started with “soft-story” buildings, typically low-rise apartments that can house dozens of people and have a flimsy first floor for carports.

About 6,000 buildings have been identified as potentially in need of a retrofit, according to city records requested by The Times. Cities that have recently passed retrofit laws include Los Angeles, Torrance, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Culver City, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Before the Northridge earthquake of January 1994, many cities across the county had retrofit laws on the books, but they primarily targeted old brick buildings. Many vulnerable structures remained and a 2013 Times investigation highlighted the risk.

Since 2015, at least seven cities have passed ordinances requiring improvements to structures such as soft-story or non-ductile concrete buildings.

In L.A., many of the deadlines to retrofit the largest soft-story buildings are now past, though some have been extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Search the map

The Times requested a progress report from every city with a seismic retrofit ordinance. Use the map to find details on the more than 16,000 buildings for which The Times received data.

Find a building

Retrofit status


Not retrofitted yet

Seismic hazard zone

Liquefaction zone

Fault zone

Use the map above to locate your building

The list of buildings needing retrofits is growing

In Los Angeles County, there is no centralized database of earthquake-vulnerable buildings. To create this map, Times reporters requested public records from each city with a recent seismic retrofit ordinance. Beverly Hills provided a list of buildings but did not respond to requests for clarification about the data.

Santa Monica and Los Angeles have retrofitted the most soft-story and non-ductile concrete buildings. Santa Monica has led the effort in tackling upgrades to several structures, with 57% of its identified buildings retrofitted. In L.A., nearly 75% of qualifying soft-story and 6% of non-ductile concrete buildings are now retrofitted.

For concrete buildings, mostly concentrated in downtown L.A., the retrofit process can take five to six years. So even though 73 retrofitted structures may seem like a low count, it’s a sign of progress and that pace will begin to pick up, said Craig Chamberlain, president of the Structural Engineers Assn. of Southern California.

The association offers a program called Safer Cities, which works with municipalities to help them draft ordinances and help promote seismic safety. With the organization’s help, the city of Torrance recently passed an ordinance mandating seismic retrofits of soft-story buildings.

Many of the L.A. neighborhoods that have completed retrofits are on the Westside, an area that is more affluent and has a larger population of white residents. Major cities in southern Los Angeles County, such as Inglewood and Compton, don’t have earthquake-retrofit ordinances, leaving many residents of color and lower-income people vulnerable.

Even with construction delays due to the pandemic, 60% of the yet-to-be-retrofitted soft-story buildings in the city of Los Angeles are mandated to be completed in 2024.

And for non-ductile concrete buildings, all but a handful of them need to have initial construction retrofit plans on file by 2028; the actual retrofit deadline for most is 2042.

The list of buildings in need of a retrofit will only grow in the coming years. By summer 2024, L.A. County anticipates passing an ordinance for high-rise non-ductile concrete buildings in unincorporated areas, where 1 million people live with a 10-year deadline.

Non-ductile concrete buildings pose the greatest risk to life safety, along with unretrofitted older brick buildings, both of which are now deemed to be so dangerous they cannot be built today. Soft-story buildings can be simpler to retrofit, and their vulnerability puts lives and the supply of affordable housing at risk.

The single greatest loss of life in the Northridge earthquake was in the collapse of a soft-story apartment building, which resulted in 16 deaths. About 200 soft-story buildings collapsed in that earthquake. Currently, there are 4,662 soft-story buildings in our analysis that may require retrofitting.


What is a seismic retrofit?

Seismic retrofits are designed to strengthen earthquake-vulnerable buildings to better withstand shaking from earthquakes, making them less likely to collapse or be damaged.

What type of buildings are covered under the ordinances?

There are several types of vulnerable buildings, including soft-story, non-ductile concrete and steel moment-frame buildings.

Soft-story buildings built before the 1980s can collapse because the upper floors are held up by flimsy poles — such as those holding up carports in apartments — that can snap when shaken.

Non-ductile concrete buildings, built before the 1980s, lack a sufficient configuration of steel reinforcing bars in their concrete frames, allowing concrete to explode out of columns in an earthquake.

Steel moment-frame buildings built from the 1970s to 1990s were found to have been designed and constructed in a flawed way; there were problems in the way they were welded and inspected.

Some cities, such as Santa Monica, have renewed deadlines for retrofitting building types such as unreinforced masonry and concrete tilt-up. More cities have taken action against those building types, but some cities have found that they still need retrofits, even long after old retrofit deadlines have passed. Unreinforced masonry buildings, or brick buildings, built during the 1930s and earlier, are vulnerable to collapse because the mortar keeping the bricks together essentially crumbles during shaking, bringing down the roof and walls.

Concrete tilt-up buildings built before the late 1990s, such as warehouses, can be vulnerable to collapse if the walls move away from the roof when shaken.

Why isn’t my building on the list, even though my city has an ordinance?

The cities in Los Angeles County that have recent earthquake retrofit ordinances are Los Angeles, Torrance, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Culver City, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Recent earthquake retrofit ordinances are defined as those passed since 2015.

If a building is on the list, it is not confirmation that it is structurally deficient or hazardous or unsafe or will collapse in the next earthquake — but it does mean that the building has been identified by the city government as either needing a seismic retrofit or evaluation. Further review by a structural engineer could result in a building deemed not needing a retrofit.

Torrance and Culver City have ordinances, but they haven’t assessed the properties or sent out notices of which buildings need retrofitting. Once these cities have identified the buildings that need to be retrofitted, The Times will add them to this map. Beverly Hills provided a list of buildings but did not respond to requests for clarification about the data.

Buildings in L.A. also may have their owner’s private engineer perform a detailed analysis and find the building doesn’t have a potentially vulnerable design. These could be removed from the city's list (and our map) as well. Additionally, buildings that may not have been identified during the initial soft-story survey could be added to the list.

The list does not mark buildings covered by old ordinances. For instance, Los Angeles in 1981 passed a law requiring retrofitting or demolition of about 8,000 older brick buildings. Virtually all have been retrofitted or demolished.

There are cities elsewhere in California that haven’t ordered retrofit or demolition of older brick buildings, such as Ventura and many in the Inland Empire.

The list does not identify certain buildings that have appeared outside a citywide inventory, or in the case of areas without a city government, a countywide inventory. For instance, The Times separately published a list of 33 concrete buildings owned by Los Angeles County that have been determined to be potentially at-risk. But the buildings depicted in this article cover only citywide or countywide inventories, which may not include government-owned buildings.

The list does not cover single-family homes, which are generally excluded from citywide inventories of earthquake-vulnerable buildings. However, certain single-family homes do need to be retrofitted, such as those built before 1979 with a handful of steps off the ground, and those built before 2000 with a living space over a garage.

In West Hollywood, condos are exempt from the retrofit requirement.

Why is a certain building listed as needing a retrofit on the map, even though I know it has already been retrofitted?

The lists presented here are strictly based on records provided by city governments.

Why was my building taken off the map?

A building may have been demolished or reclassified to a different type of structure that is not subject to the retrofit ordinance.

Why isn’t my city on the map?

If you live in a city other than those listed above, that city might not have an ordinance.

In fact, most cities in California have not ordered retrofits for certain types of vulnerable buildings, such as soft-story apartments, non-ductile concrete and steel moment-frame buildings.

If you think you live in a soft-story building and are curious about its retrofit status, you can reach out to your local building and safety office for more information, or contact a local elected official. You also can try reaching out to a structural engineer for an opinion. Generally, low-rise apartment buildings built before the 1980s, with flimsy, narrow columns holding up carports, or those with living spaces on top of garages, are soft-story buildings at risk of collapse in an earthquake.

I’m an owner. What should I do?

Owners who would like to have a retrofit assessment for their building should contact a structural engineer. The Structural Engineers Assn. of Southern California has a “find an engineer” feature on its website to help find engineers.

I’m a renter. What should I do?

Contact your landlord to ask about the structural integrity of your building. Or contact a structural engineer to see whether they’d look at a photo of your building to determine whether it is likely to need a structural evaluation.

Soft-story buildings are among the easiest to identify visually, but other building types – such as non-ductile concrete and steel moment-frame buildings – cost far more to properly diagnose.

If your landlord is not responsive, you can talk to a government agency or check out Shape your L.A. for contacts and ask whether the local government is considering a retrofit ordinance or inventory for your building type.

What are liquefaction and fault zones?

Liquefaction zone: During an earthquake, shaking can cause land to behave like quicksand and the ground to fail. This can happen in places where the land is made of loose sand or silt and filled with groundwater. Liquefaction zones marked here are mapped by the California Geological Survey. They’re mainly intended to flag developers and prospective buyers that there may be a risk of liquefaction and further investigation is necessary to determine the risk on a specific parcel. Where the ground actually fails in a specific earthquake may be only a small proportion of the area in this zone.

Fault zone: When a fault moves during an earthquake and ruptures the surface, buildings straddling the line could be torn apart. The fault zones as depicted are mapped by the California Geological Survey. Buildings in this zone may be either directly on a fault or near a fault. Further investigation is needed to determine whether a specific parcel is directly on top of an actual fault line. Buildings can still be damaged or destroyed without being on top of a rupturing fault. There may be other faults not mapped as an official fault zone by the state. Faults that don’t reach the surface also are not mapped.

What else can I do to be safe in the case of an earthquake?

Here’s a comprehensive tip sheet on steps people can take to strengthen their homes from damage and injury in an earthquake.

How do I contact my city if I have more questions?

Contact the following:

Los Angeles (soft-story)WebsiteEmail(213) 202-9924
Los Angeles (non-ductile concrete)WebsiteEmail(213) 978-4475
West HollywoodWebsiteEmail(323) 848-6848
PasadenaWebsiteEmail(626) 744-4200
Santa MonicaWebsiteEmail(310) 458-8355