Ordinance Approved To Ensure Safety Of Exterior Elevated Elements On Buildings

February 29, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of Felipe Dornellas via Unsplash.

MALIBU—On February 20, it was announced on its website that the Malibu City Council approved an ordinance to regulate inspections of balconies and other exterior elevated elements on any buildings with three or more units to help protect the public.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority, and no one should have to be afraid because a balcony they are standing on may collapse,” said Mayor Steve Uhring. “This is a common-sense regulation that will protect homeowners from the hidden danger of exterior elements that could collapse, and from liability.”

Exterior elevated elements (E3s) are balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways and entry structures that extend beyond exterior walls of a building.

The ordinance was proposed by the Malibu City Council in response to enacted California state laws monitoring exterior elements. The state laws were enacted in response to a 2015 balcony collapse in Berkeley that killed 6 students and injured 7. A subsequent investigation revealed that years of exposure to moisture led to dry rot along the top of the cantilevered balcony framing, causing it to disintegrate and compromise the load-carrying capacity of the supporting elements.

The State of California moved to address deficiencies in the laws around the maintenance and inspection of balconies, decks, and other exterior elevated elements. The primary differences between the Senate Bill (SB) 721 and SB 326 are who they affect and the frequency of inspection. These inspections will identify deterioration issues and determine if repairs are needed.

SB 721 applies to property owners of buildings with three or more dwelling units. The first inspection is required by January 1, 2025 and then every 6 years after.

SB 326 applies to condominium associations. The first inspection is required by January 1, 2025 and then every 9 years after.

All inspections must be completed by a California state-licensed architect, civil engineer, or structural engineer.

The ordinance must be approved by the City Council during a second reading before final adoption. The Environmental Sustainability Department has already developed educational materials including inspection protocols aligning with the new regulations, which can be found on the website or in person at city hall. The program provides concise standards for inspections of these structures and will assist property owners to make necessary repairs or upgrades to ensure their safety.

Malibu will host several town hall meetings in the spring to offer information and assistance to property owners. Further details will be announced.

For more information, including the types of properties that the ordinance applies to, visit: www.malibucity.org/E3.

By Trevor

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