With the City anticipating a whirlwind of construction as apartment complexes and building owners get their properties up to code, the City is hoping to increase tenant protections.

On Jan. 27 the City published an exhaustive list of every address that may need a seismic retrofit. The list includes about 1,600 soft-story apartment buildings – where second story units hover over parking spaces – that may be due for earthquake retrofits. The ordinance also affects businesses and renters in larger structures like unreinforced masonry (brick), concrete tilt-up, non-ductile concrete, and steel moment frame buildings.

Notable buildings on the list include the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and some of the City’s tallest buildings: 100 Wilshire (21 stories of commercial tenants), Westminster Towers (17 stories), the Huntley Hotel (17 stories), Ocean Towers Condominiums (15 stories), and the Pacific Plaza Apartments (15 stories).

The list includes more than a dozen addresses on the 3rd Street Promenade including the buildings that lease to Apple, Banana Republic, United Colors of Benetton, GUESS and Journeys among others.

Inclusion on the list does not necessary mean a building is unsafe or structurally deficient. In fact, some of the buildings may have already retrofitted after the Northridge Earthquake.

While the list has been public for weeks, many landlords are declining to comment on their building’s status until further along in the process. The City will begin sending out the first wave of official notices May 1. Owners of unreinforced masonry buildings will have until October to complete an evaluation of the structural integrity of the building and then two years to complete any construction.

“We have not received formal notice from the City,” The general manager of the Fairmont said in an email to the Daily Press. “Once we do, we will review carefully and ensure that we are in compliance.”

It is not clear how commercial tenants will be impacted by the seismic retrofits. The City’s staff report on the ordinance does not include any mitigation plans for small businesses that may be displaced because their building needs a retrofit. Chamber of Commerce leadership is looking closely at the ordinance.

“We want to make certain that our community is safe, but also that compliance with the ordinance is not unnecessarily burdensome for tenants or property owners,” said Laurel Rose, Chamber President.

The City Council will look at new protections Tuesday to help tenants stay in their homes during the construction process or get reimbursed if displaced.

One of the protections will allow City oversight of hazardous material abatement. Right now, buildings with asbestos or lead paint must file paperwork with the Southern California Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to address handling of the hazardous materials.

City Staff is suggesting Santa Monica should “actively monitor such handling” and possibly hire qualified experts to evaluate compliance, according to a Staff Report. While the owner will pay some of the oversight work, the City Council may hire licensed environmental consultants as advisers.

The new rules would allow owners to relocate tenants to a hotel instead of paying a daily per diem or provide comparable housing if the relocation is less than six days.

A 1999 seismic retrofit ordinance did not allow relocation benefits to tenants displaced by the retrofitting. Staff is asking the City Council to repeal that stipulation.

kate@www.smdp.com