The ICC Los Angeles Basin Chapter, as supported by the Administration and Code Committee, periodically monitor proposed bills circulating through the California State Legislature. On such bill of note in the first year of the 2023-2024 Legislative Session is Assembly Bill 1046 (AB 1046) introduced by Assembly Member Lowenthal on February 15, 2023, and as amended on April 18, 2023. This bill proposes an act to amend Sections 2621.6 and 2621.7 of the Public Resources Code relating to geologic hazards. The purpose of this bill is to modernize aspects of the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act (AP-Act) to ensure that alterations for fire and life-safety improvements and seismic retrofitting are permitted for existing structures for human occupancy that meet certain conditions in earthquake fault zones.
Under the AP-Act, before approving a project within an earthquake fault zone, a city or county is directed to require the preparation of a geologic report, subject to certain exceptions. Existing law exempts from this requirement the conversion of an existing apartment complex into a condominium, projects for the alteration or addition of any structure if the value of the alteration or addition does not exceed 50% of the value of the structure, and certain projects for alterations that include seismic retrofitting if a city or county, among other things, requires certain seismic retrofitting and prohibits an increase in human occupancy load.
The intent of the AP-Act is to minimize the loss of life during and immediately following potential surface fault ruptures cause by earthquakes. Almost 100 local permitting agencies in California are mandated by the AP-Act to exercise their responsibility to prohibit the location of development and existing structures for human occupancy across the trace of active faults within earthquake fault zones. Many provisions in the AP-Act, however, are unclear and do not align with terminology or regulations contained in the State’s Building Standards Code, Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations, leading to confusion for local permitting agencies, design professionals, developers and property owners. Furthermore, the AP-Act caps investments in existing structures to 50 percent of the replacement value of the building, making it difficult to address core safety improvements related to fire and life-safety systems and seismic retrofit.
This bill would revise and recast the exemptions to the AP-Act to, among other things, exempt from the AP-Act projects for the alteration of any structure for human occupancy if the value of the alteration does not exceed 50% of the appraised value of the structure that meets certain conditions and projects for alterations of certain types of buildings that are permitted before the adoption of certain editions of the Uniform Building Code. This proposed bill would also specify that terms used in the act that are not defined by the act have the same meaning as those defined in the California Building Standards Code.
For these reasons, the ICC Los Angeles Basin Chapter is recommending that cities and the count
yies within our region and beyond to support AB 1046. For more information on the bill, click here for a link to the bill as well as the attached powerpoint slide, fact sheet and background documents. Also included is a template support letter for your use to express your support of AB 1046. Support letters can be uploaded to the state’s legislative portal at https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/ so that official positions are noted to state committees and the author’s staff. Thank you for your time, consideration and support on this important bill.