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Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Program

Development Services

Division of Building and Safety

Date: October 21, 2004

Subject: List of Noticed Unreinforced Masonry Buildings

The list of Noticed Unreinforced Masonry Buildings (URM) is being published to aid architects, engineers, contractors, building owners and City staff in identifying the URM buildings.

As part of the City of San Diego's efforts to promote public safety and outreach, the Development Services Department has posted this list on the City's web page. Buildings that have unreinforced masonry bearing walls are widely recognized for sustaining life-hazardous damage as a result of partial or complete collapse during moderate to strong earthquakes.

Adopted by City Council on Nov. 9, 1992, the "Earthquake Hazard Reduction In Existing Buildings" ordinance established a program for mitigation of seismic hazards associated with buildings containing unreinforced masonry bearing walls. The ordinance requires some mandatory strengthening of all unreinforced masonry buildings and contains trigger mechanisms which may lead to total seismic retrofit (see San Diego Municipal Code [SDMC] Chapter 14, Article 5, Division 4). The City of San Diego URM Regulations may be found at http://docs.sandiego.gov/municode/MuniCodeChapter14/Ch14Art05Division04.pdf (PDF)

The provisions of the URM Regulations apply to buildings which were constructed or were under construction before March 24, 1939, having at least one Unreinforced Masonry Bearing Wall. (SDMC, Section 145.0402).

In general, the ordinance requires that the building owner shall, within five years after being noticed by the department, remove, stabilize or brace any parapets and other external hazards. The date by which the URM building owners are required to comply with the mandatory provisions of the URM Regulations is January 1, 2006. Additional seismic strengthening may be required based upon triggering mechanisms associated with remodeling, renovation or change of occupancy.

The list of noticed URM buildings was compiled as a result of a limited visual survey of buildings in 1989 which were identified on SANBORN maps as containing any type of masonry construction in any form. The list has since been revised to reflect demolished buildings or buildings demonstrated not to contain load-bearing URM walls.

Please be advised that every effort is made to create a complete list of URM buildings as of the date of its publication. This is based upon site observations, limited visual survey and our review of records and existing data files. The buildings noticed are presumed to be URM and therefore are subject to the requirements set forth in the URM Regulations. The City makes no representations, whether expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of the list of Noticed URM Buildings.

Building owners (or their authorized agent of record) are recommended to consult with a California registered Civil/Structural engineer or licensed architect to perform a detailed building survey to determine whether or not the building is subject to URM Regulations. A copy of the report of structural survey shall be submitted to Development Services demonstrating that the noticed building does not fall within the scope of the URM regulations. If a building owner believes that the department's determination has been made in error, or that the building has already undergone seismic strengthening which complies with the ordinance, you are hereby requested to contact the department's URM Program Coordinator in writing and provide evidence of compliance so that we may update our file. In addition, upon completion of any phase of the ordinance's strengthening requirements, permit applicants are hereby requested to submit documentation to the URM program coordinator so that our records can be updated.

If there is any reason to believe that a building is subject to the requirements of the City of San Diego URM Regulations and is not shown on the list of Noticed URM Buildings and/or was not noticed by the Department, the building owner is still required to comply with the requirements set forth in the URM Regulations as stated under SDMC, Ch 14, Art. 5, Div. 4.

For more information about the City of San Diego Unreinforced Masonry Program please visit the City's web site at http://www.sandiego.gov/development-services/industry/information/codesregreq/index.shtml or contact the department URM Program Coordinator, at (619) 446-5400.