The tragic collapse of a 12-story condominium tower in Surfside, Florida has prompted Los Angeles County officials to initiate a review of similar structures in the unincorporated community of Marina del Rey.

"In Los Angeles County, many high-rise buildings that were constructed over 30 years ago exist throughout the region," reads a motion introduced by 4th District County Supervisor Janice Hahn.  "Most high-rise buildings are located within the incorporated cities, however, due to the tragedy and the loss of life in Surfside, it's imperative we identify buildings within the unincorporated areas that may be structurally vulnerable and potentially pose a threat to the life and safety of residents."

The focus of the motion, aging high-rise buildings in Marina del Rey, is in light of concerns expressed to the Supervisor's office by residents who fear that their homes may also be at risk of collapse due to exposure to water and sea air.

The Los Angeles Times recently detailed a County inspection of the 600-unit Marina City Club towers, which have been prominent landmarks north of the manmade marina since the 1970s.  While the County report found no risk of imminent collapse, the Times reports that the buildings have accrued between $80 million and $40 million in deferred maintenance costs, an issue which is exacerbated between an underfunded maintenance fund and disputes between the homeowners and building owner Essex Property Trust.

View of Marina del Rey, with one of the towers of the Marina City Club in the backgroundWikimedia Commons

Hahn's motion directs the County Public Works Department and other relevant departments to review the causes of the tower collapse in Florida, and to create an inventory of similar privately-owned high-rise buildings in the County's unincorporated areas.  Building owners would then be required to hire a structural engineer to assess the safety of their properties. 

Hahn has also requested a feasibility study on requiring a certification inspection program for high-rise buildings in unincorporated communities, and proposes a partnership with the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach on an action plan for aging high-rise structures.

With fault lines criss-crossing the region, Los Angeles has long had stringent safety regulations for its high-rise buildings.  Nonetheless, the concerns generated by the Florida collapse are not the first new questions raised about the region's older structures.  LAist reports that apartment and office towers built with the welded steel moment-frame type construction that popular in the region from the 1960s through the 1990s could be vulnerable during a major seismic event.