(WSB file photo of one of the smaller West Seattle buildings on the list, at Highland Park Playground)
For years, the issue of ordering earthquake-safety retrofits for unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings has been simmering in Seattle. Our archives show a local presentation about it at a community meeting almost 10 years ago. At that time, it was estimated that Seattle had at least 1,000 URM buildings, including more than 50 in West Seattle. Now the topic is bubbling back up. For one, the city has just updated its list of what’s now an estimated 1,100 URM buildings – you can see the list here. (A quick search finds 44 addresses on the list containing SW, signifying they’re in West Seattle. Also, here’s a less-up-to-date map.) The list accompanies this city-website update saying the city intends to finalize an ordinance next year to mandate the retrofits. Before that ordinance is drafted and finalized, the city has created four “working groups” to tackle different aspects of the process, and is inviting participation. Here’s what they’ll work on:
*Development of a minimum retrofit standard to increase the life safety of unreinforced masonry buildings. The Technical Briefing Working Group has been established to provide input and ask questions prior to finalization of the standard currently in development by SDCI. The draft technical standard will be available spring 2023.
*Development of funding resources to increase capacity of URM building owners to invest in resilience. The Funding Working Group has been established to identify grants, credits, and financing available to support earthquake retrofits.
*Development of resources to support URM building owner and tenant needs during the retrofit process. The Owner and Tenant Needs Working Group has been established to mitigate tenant displacement, to support and guide building owners, and meet the needs of underserved stakeholders.
*Development of clear and accessible communications on the need for earthquake retrofits and compliance requirements of the ordinance. The Communications Working Group has been established to develop a comprehensive communication strategy.
If you’re interested in participating in any of those groups, the city update also has info on who to contact,
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