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Los Angeles City Officials Question Wood Framed Construction

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Los Angeles is the third largest city in the U.S. and unlike its sister cities, New York and Chicago, does not ban the use of combustible, light-framed wood construction within city limits. Recently, however, large scale fires in LA like the DaVinci development fire have brought the issue front and center before the City Council. Councilman Bob Blumenfield recently introduced a motion in the Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee that calls on the Planning Department, Department of Building and Safety, Fire Department and Bureau of Engineering to provide clarity on the city's policies on wood-frame construction.
Specifically, Blumenfield makes the following queries:
• At what size does wood-frame construction no longer make sense for residential buildings?
• Multi-family buildings of four stories or less permit wood-framing by code. However, four-story commercial buildings are not allowed to be wood-framed.  What explains this and what are the reasons?
• Wood is a fire hazard in high occupancy buildings, therefore, why does the city permit large residential projects to be built with wood?
• Should there be a housing density limit and better fire separation between units?
• Is a 20- or 30-unit building the maximum that should be permitted for wood-frame construction and should these maximum criteria be codified in city codes?
• Should the height limit for wood-frame construction be reevaluated?
• What explains the intensity of the fire at the apartment complex, inasmuch as it went up like match sticks?
• What are the best policy solutions the city can enact as to the permitting and inspection process to prevent future fires at under construction development projects?
Build With Strength, a coalition of the ready mixed concrete industry, applauds this type of effort out of consideration for the safety of firefighters and citizens and is addressing this issue in many states and cities with both a public affairs campaign and a robust advocacy effort. To learn more about how NRMCA can assist affiliates and members with their government affairs efforts, including fire safety legislation, please contact John Loyer at 703-675-7603 or

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