Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Bob Blumenfield led the Public Land Use and Management (PLUM) Committee to take the next step in passing an ordinance that would enact safer building practices. Blumenfield, alongside Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, a co-sponsor of the ordinance, announced the initial release of the motion in June.
A number of Build with Strength coalition members in Los Angeles testified in support of the ordinance, including The Los Angeles Urban League, The Los Angeles Building Trades Council, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, The California Conference of Carpenters, Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
“It was an honor to stand alongside members of Build with Strength and the local Los Angeles community at today’s meeting with the Council,” said Michael Lawson, CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League. “The communities that we represent are at risk for fire and disaster, so passing this ordinance would have a tremendously positive impact on their well-being and safety. I trust and hope that the City Council will do what is right and see this ordinance to its passage.”
There are already measures in the city of Los Angeles that address increased fire risk in densely populated communities through the city’s Building Code and Fire District 1. This code dictates that developers and construction crews use enhanced fire protections and fire-resistant materials during the building process. However, Fire District 1 only covers a small percentage of the city.
Blumenfield’s motion specifically instructs the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) and the Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) to prepare and present an ordinance to expand Fire District 1 to include all areas within the city covered by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Very High Fire Severity Zone and City’s High Wind Velocity Zone as well as high density population centers with a population density of at least 5,000 residents per square mile. It also instructs LAFD and LADBS to:
• Update Fire District 1 to reflect population growth based on the U.S. Census;
• Present an ordinance to require a Fire Protection Plan, as allowed under Chapter 33 of the Los Angeles Fire Code, for all new and significantly altered projects over 150,000 square feet and/or 100,000 square feet if the building is over 30’ in height;
• And make recommendations to ensure proper enforcement.
“Following another series of fires in the Los Angeles area this year, we set out to work within the community in support of taking a step forward to address public safety. Councilmember Blumenfield’s ordinance is a significant step in the right direction and we are encouraged by its movement for all residents,” said Walter Contreras, Community Engagement Coordinator for Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County.
Build with Strength works with communities, lawmakers, and industry employees to advocate for safer, sustainable building materials. Strengthening local and national building codes is among the organization’s top priorities.