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Re: Need feedback from those using strict interpretation forWoodstructures

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Dear Lynn--

I obtained my copy of "The Findings and Recommendations of the City of Los
Angeles/SEAOSC Task Force on the Northridge Earthquake" through SEAOSC.  I suspect
you already have a copy.  On page 3 of the section entitled "Wood Framed
Multi-family Residential" the author characterizes the Northridge earthquake as
"moderate" and states that "there was a general perception than building
performance was unacceptable and than building codes and the construction process
may not be adequate".  I guess the long and short of it is that I agree with the
author and you disagree.  It does not become you to mis-characterize my position
regarding design criteria.  No major structural damage in moderate earthquakes and
life safety performance in design events would be a correct characterization.  The
fact of the matter is no one really knows what will happen to some of our more
adventuresome some design efforts when the "big one" finally hits.  However it's
pointless for you and I to continue this debate.  The 97 UBC is now the law in
California and any engineer who chooses not to comply with it assumes great
liability.

Even if you were able to convince a local Building official not to enforce the new
seismic provisions, it would provide no protection for the non-complying
engineers.  The UBC explicitly states that approval of a drawing that does not
conform to code requirements does not mean those requirements are waived.  When a
building receives the scrutiny of a forensic engineer during the process of defect
litigation, it is incumbent on the reviewing engineer to apply the strict
provisions of the UBC as a minimum.  The fact that the drawings were approved
carries no weight in the process of the evaluation.  Bob Bossi's recent post says
essentially the same thing.

Rather than wasting any more time on a pointless debate, why don't we turned our
attention to understanding and applying the new code provisions.  If a homeowner
or cannot afford the cost of a code compliant structural analysis, there is always
the option of a more simple design under the Conventional Framing provisions.
When we are asked to analyze more complex, highly loaded, structures the owners
will simply have to pay the cost of a code compliant design.
Chuck Utzman, P.E.