Why? Well, Seattle’s predisposition towards earthquakes and public safety are the main instigators here. The city is also interested in protecting historic buildings in our community. Currently, Seattle is working on a plan to require Unreinforced Masonry (URM) buildings to retrofit for earthquake survival. This is a good thing, but expensive. If your building is not planning for this or has reserve issues, this can be financially devastating. These retrofits are expensive and time consuming.
Fortunately, Seattle will not just dump this on your HOA. Likely, the bill will not pass for a few more years, and when it does (there is no doubt the bill will pass—the only question is when), it will likely give buildings adequate time to complete the repairs. Still, depending on how your building is managed, this could result in HUGE assessments.
So, what should YOU do? Good question. I’d recommend go to your monthly or quarterly homeowners meetings and bring this issue up. Find out if your building is aware of this legislation and whether or not they have a plan for implementation. At this current point in time, your building would have time to start saving and preparing for the eventual passage.
One thing is clear: now is the time to start planning for this!
A few buildings where I’ve sold homes in are currently planning for this, but I find that it’s typically the larger old buildings like Garden Court or Belmont Place in Capitol Hill that are preparing. What I find most concerning are the mid-sized to small buildings that have no idea that this is on the horizon.