Tax break for earthquake retrofitting passes California Senate
By Rosanna Xia
A proposed state tax credit for earthquake retrofits passed the Senate on Tuesday, clearing a major hurdle for a bill that would ease the burden of strengthening thousands of at-risk buildings across California.
The proposal, which passed the state Senate 37 to 1, would give property owners a 30% tax break on the cost of seismic retrofitting.
“Nothing like this has happened before,” said Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks), who introduced the legislation. “I am thrilled we have moved one step closer to making California safer.”
The Assembly version of the legislation, AB 428, passed 78 to 0. But the proposal failed in June to make it into this year’s budget, calling its prospects at that time into question.
With the Senate’s approval this week, the bill is moving forward, Nazarian said.
“This is both institutions saying that we see this need,” he said.
Nazarian said the tax break would also lead to more construction jobs as more buildings get retrofitted.
An apartment building in El Centro, Calif., is left unstable after the Easter Sunday earthquake hit Baja California in 2010. The skinny, flimsy supports above the carport area were not strong enough to withstand the side-to-side shaking of the mangitude-7.2 earthquake.
“Seismic retrofitting protects property, saves lives and creates jobs,” Nazarian said. “The main objective now is to make sure that the governor deems this necessary and offers his support through his signature.”
The tax credit idea has been endorsed by the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Santa Monica. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed new city rules that would require the retrofits of thousands of older concrete and wooden buildings.
“The physical threat of death or injury from vulnerable buildings is real,” the five mayors wrote to the Senate Budget Committee this year.
A Senate analysis of the bill cited no formal opposition.
Under the bill, the tax credit would be given to an owner over a period of five years after the retrofitting was completed. For every $100 owners spent on a qualified retrofit, they would receive a $30 break on income or corporate taxes.
Work eligible for the tax break would include retrofitting vulnerable wood-frame apartment buildings and concrete residential buildings, installing automatic gas shut-off valves, anchoring single-family homes to foundations and installing quake-resistant bracing systems for mobile homes.