Monday, September 24, 2018

City Proposes Requiring Unreinforced Masonry Placards by March 1, 2019

On Wednesday, October 3rd 2-5pm the Portland City Council may vote on this draft ordinance requiring placards of unreinforced masonry buildings effective March 1, 2019.

Proposed URM Placarding and Tenant Notification Ordinance

To reduce the risk posed by unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings, the City Council directed staff from PBEM, PDC, and BDS to develop policy recommendations, including proposed code changes and an incentive program(s) to support the implementation of retrofit efforts.

After four years and three different committees, Council heard recommendations and passed a resolution on June 13th among other things directing staff to develop an ordinance to:
  1. Require a placard on all URM buildings that have not been retrofitted to prevent collapse in the event of a “major earthquake”
  2. Require URM building owners to notify tenants/renters through rental agreements that their building is an unreinforced masonry building and unreinforced masonry buildings may be unsafe in an event of a major earthquake
  3. Strengthen existing triggers in Title 24.85 requiring seismic retrofits of URM buildings
Placarding and Tenant Notification Requirements
The ordinance requires URM owners to post a placard according to the following timeline: The placard shall be 8”x10” durable placard with lettering in a 50-point bold font, posted in a conspicuous location on the exterior at the main entrance with the following message: “This Building is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake.”
  • Publicly-owned buildings: On or before January 1, 2019
  • Non-profit buildings: On or before November 1, 2020
  • All other buildings: On or before March 1, 2019
  • Building owner must notify existing tenants that the building is an unreinforced masonry building, and unreinforced masonry buildings may be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake.
  • In addition, every lease or rental agreement entered into or renewed after the timeline for placarding noted above, must contain a statement that: “This Building is an Unreinforced Masonry Building. Unreinforced Masonry Buildings may be unsafe in an event of a Major Earthquake.”
  • Building owners must record an agreement not to remove the placard and acknowledgment of compliance with tenant notification requirements.
Exceptions to Placarding and Tenant Notifications
Buildings that have been retrofitted to the following standards will not require a placard or tenant notification:

Collapse prevention standard for BSE-2 seismic hazards or life safety for BSE-1 seismic hazard as defined in American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 41-17 or ASCE 41-13 are not required to post a placard or notify tenants.

For buildings that were retrofitted before January 1, 2018, either

a.       Life Safety standard using FEMA 178, FEMA 310, or ASCE 31; or

b.       Oregon Structural Specialty Code 1993 edition or later


Portland Fire and Rescue will inspect the placement of placards as part of their inspection program and will work with BDS Enforcement Section in enforcing the requirements for placards
BDS Enforcement Section will use its existing enforcement program and authority to enforce the requirements for placarding and tenant notification.

Building owners who receive notice to place placards and notify tenants but believe that their building is not a URM, or that the URM building has already been retrofitted to meet the standards above, may file an appeal through the bureau’s administrative appeals procedure.

Additional Information
  1. BDS intends to notify all eligible URM property owners about the placarding and tenant notification requirements by December 31, 2018
  2. BDS will create administrative rules that clarify how to provide documentation to show compliance with the new regulations
  3. BDS will provide guidance on how to file appeals
Strengthening Existing Seismic Triggers for URM Buildings in Title 24.85
  1. Roof replacement – removal of greater than 50% of total roof area within a 15 year period requires wall anchorage for both in plane and out of plane forces and parapet bracing.
  2. Costs of alterations or repair - When costs associated with building alterations or repair in a five year time period or fifteen year time period exceeds the square-foot costs outlined in the ordinance, entire building must be improved to resist seismic forces to meet ASCE 31 41 criteria.

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