The city requires a means & method plan when construction will affect other tenants in a multifamily property. The plan discloses the nature of the work, identifies likely impacts, and proposes measures to mitigate impacts. But we hear from tenants that the means & method process is not protecting them. The process needs improvement and here is what we recommend to make it work better for tenants.
The means & method plan requirement is described to building permit applicants right at the top of the application:
If the property is tenant occupied and, as determined by the building official, the construction work could impact the habitability of any unit on the property, prior to obtaining a permit, the applicant shall submit a construction means and method plan….
For the tenant the purpose of the means & method plan is notification of impending construction work and disclosure of anticipated construction impacts (like noise, dust, interruption of utilities and workplace conditions) as well as hazardous material abatement, if any. For more about the plan read our updated explainer, Means and Method Plan: What You Need to Know.
The means & method plan process is kicked-off by the permit applicant. If required, the means & method plan first goes to the rent stabilization division for review and then passes on to the building & safety division of the Community Development Department. Unless revision is necessary, building & safety approve the permit. The neighboring tenants are formally notified and 10 days later the work may commence.
The problem is that submittal of a means & method plan is merely a step in the building permit process. The requirement is specified in building code section 9–1–108 (‘SUBMITTAL DOCUMENTS’). It is simply a step on the way to obtaining the permit…a box to be ticked. But the means & method plan requirement is supposed to be about tenant protection. In fact West Hollywood and Santa Monica each have made that obligation explicit by adopting municipal code chapters titled, ‘Tenant Protection During Construction.’ Not Beverly Hills!
Our city’s approach is reflected in the municipal code subsection titled ‘Tenant Noticing Requirement’ (9–1–108(O)(2)(f)). The landlord is required by the city to provide tenants only with a notice that the plan is available for review, but he is not obligated to actually provide either the means & method plan or the associated tenant relocation plan. Imagine: a tenant will be temporarily located and to learn more she has to request the relocation plans from the landlord?
Renters Alliance looks at everything from the tenant’s perspective. We have provided city officials with a laundry list of means & method plan process recommendations and we present those proposed fixes — and more — here for your consideration.
It’s important that the means & method plan process be improved now because seismic retrofit work is underway in our neighborhoods. Almost one-third of our older, wood-frame residential rental structures erected before 1978 are in need of retrofitting, and work must be completed within the next few years to ensure that they meet current seismic standards. A means & method plan is likely required in most instances.
We always want to hear from tenants about their experience. Have you had a bad experience with a means & method plan? Please get in touch!)
Renters Alliance Recommendations
Means & Method References
- Beverly Hills means & method plan at the rent stabilization division website.
- Beverly Hills means & method plan in the municipal code (section 9–1–108 ‘Submittal documents’).
- West Hollywood Municipal Code Article 4 Chapter 17.30 ‘Tenant Protection During Construction’.
- Santa Monica Municipal Code Article 4 Chapter 4.36 ‘Tenant Protection During Construction’.