Unreinforced Masonry Retrofit Policy Update

DPD continues to work on the Unreinforced Masonry (URM) policy to develop final recommendations for a URM seismic retrofit program.  The URM Policy Committee prepared draft recommendations in January 2013.  The department did community outreach during that year and hired a consultant for a benefits cost analysis.  We then reconvened the committee to discuss the results of the outreach and consultant work.  At the last meeting in April 2014, the committee asked us to validate DPD’s existing building inventory of URMs in Seattle to provide more information for their final recommendations.

DPD is actively working on validating that inventory of URMs. In April, the department hired a structural engineer to validate the list as well as identify any other buildings that should be included on the list. After the list is validated, DPD will need to determine the number of URM buildings that have been retrofitted and what percentage of the retrofits are expected to meet or exceed the proposed technical standard developed in 2010 by an expert technical committee.  Additionally, DPD will make an estimate about how many of the un-retrofitted buildings will be eligible to use a simplified retrofit method as described in the technical standard.

As of today, DPD has verified that about 900 buildings on the list are URMs and about 100 are not URMs. Roughly 250 buildings still need to be looked at further. Additionally, approximately 55 of the buildings on the list were demolished since it was originally compiled.

DPD expects to complete the basic validation of the buildings on the list by the end of 2015. DPD anticipates completing the review of the retrofits, and the determination of the percentage of buildings eligible to use the simplified retrofit method, by late spring of 2016.  Following the field work, we should have a fairly complete list of URM buildings. However, the department does not expect to find every URM in the city. Even if a URM isn’t on the City’s URM list, it will likely be subject to a retrofit ordinance.

Once this validation is complete, DPD will re-convene the URM Policy Committee to review the information obtained by validating the potential URM list.  The URM Policy Committee will then prepare final recommendations to help inform DPD’s and City Council’s decisions on legislation and program development.

DPD will continue to provide periodic updates on the webpage and email list. Sign up for our listserv on our URM Policy webpage.  You can also send us comments via email DPD_URM_Policy_Committee_Comments@seattle.gov, or contact Sandy Howard, the Project Manager for the URM Retrofit Policy development.

Sandy Howard
Project Manager, URM Retrofit Policy
(206) 233-7194

Nancy Devine
Structural Engineer, URM Inventory
(206) 684-3406