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RE: McCormick

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Sorry – I was thinking of Tim Foster from Specialized Testing. I do know Tim McCormick and while I agree with you, I think McCormicks strict enforcement of the code had to do more with the Old Santa Monica when the city tried to fight the compliance with the State Hazardous Building Code enforcement. Stan, you probably know more about this than most, but I as I recall, one of the previous Mayor’s of Santa Monica was an attorney. Santa Monica had a strict Rent Control enforcement and the community of building owners in town feared the loss they would suffer if forced to retrofit their URM buildings. I seem to recall that the Mayor hired an engineer from UC Irvine or UC San Diego or one of the Orange County or San Diego County State Universities to evaluate the potential for damage to building in Santa Monica and there was an argument put forth that Santa Monica was isolated from most of the known active faults back in the 70’s and very early 80’s that was the driving factor behind the California Hazardous Building disclosure requirements.

Let me apologize first as I am stating this from second hand information obtained when I first started doing retrofit in the mid-1980’s and was active on the SEAOSC Hazardous Building Committee from 1987 until I moved to the desert in 1993. I designed the retrofit (as Stan knows) for the large building on the southeast corner of 4th and Broadway in Santa Monica as well as for the First Christian Church located on 7th and Arizona. Both clients could not obtain funding to do the requirements because of the struggle to keep Santa Monica building owners from having to comply with a soon to be coming ordinance in Los Angeles and the County to retrofit all buildings disclosed as hazardous. The politics were such that until the Northridge earthquake hit, Santa Monica only caved in on the disclosure requirements of the state. I even recall that the chief inspector in the city (and for some reason his name now escapes me) was a licensed Civil Engineer and at the time that a disclosure report was to be submitted, Santa Monica made it difficult for Civil Engineers practicing Structural Engineering to wet seal the reports – he believed that the report required the stamp of an SE and this was later changed.

Northridge changed everything for Santa Monica since a very large number of URM buildings lining Santa Monica Blvd were damaged or destroyed. The Church I designed a retrofit for had funding to tie the first floor in place and this probably saved the homeless shelter in the basement from damage, but the church was demolished because they Board of Directors could not obtain funding to do the rest of the work. The building on 4th and Broadway was severely damaged. Those of you who know the area – this was the Van’s Shoes building that took up about half a city block including an adjacent one story line of stores and an storage warehouse used for the Rand Corporation. The cost to retrofit and repair the building quadrupled after the damage but the owner was able to obtain funding ONLY after the earthquake.

I worked with a number of owners who wanted to protect their property but found that their local banks refused to loan money on the retrofit of these buildings because of the politics in play by the past Mayor who represented the building owners whose property was under rent control.

When Tim McCormick came to Santa Monica, I believe that regardless of his personal opinion having worked for the City of Los Angeles, he was forced to make up for the mistakes made in the past and had to comply with the strict letter of the ordinance that was used in Los Angeles at the time (RGA 1-91) or Division 88 until the publication and acceptance of the 1991 UCBC Appendix Chapter 1.

I’m sure there is another side to this story, but this is how many of the building owners explained it to me when we did the retrofit design and repair after Northridge, but when they were having trouble obtaining funding. None of them wanted to raise rents since they did not really profit from it. They were allowed to recoup their retrofit cost in rent increases but were still under the rules of Rent Control that make Santa Monica one of the most popular areas to live in Los Angeles (right off the ocean front).


This is a long story simply to let you know that I meant to recommend Tim Foster of Specialized Testing but Tim McCormick’s name was first to come to mind since I had not talked to Tim Foster in a few years. In fact, for those of you who know Tim Foster, he and Kent Carlson started out with Hilti and then opened Specialized Testing together. Kent left to persue other ventures but returned some years ago and is currently with ShearMax. I spoke to Kent about two weeks ago and he stills see’s or talks to Tim Foster often.


Hope this clears things up. Stan, what was the Inspectors name? Bill something? He was a hard headed guy but we seemed to get along pretty well and he retired before the Northridge Earthquake occurred.




From: sscholl2(--nospam--at) [mailto:sscholl2(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2007 8:07 AM
To: dennis.wish(--nospam--at)
Subject: McCormick


Tim McCormick has been the Building Official in Santa Monica for the  past 10 years. I believe he would have a very low opinion about any kind of clay tile.

He may have mellowed somewhat but generally takes a very conservative view of any kind of retrofit proposal. I don't know about what they are doing recently (within the past couple of years) but for a moment frame for example they refused to approve anything that had not been tested in a laboratory and since only a very few frames had been tested, we had to use those size beams/columns in order to gain approval for a frame.


Stan Scholl