By code, is this a retaining wall? : HomeImprovement


A driver damaged the concrete block wall at the back of my house that runs adjacent to a sloping alley way. The blocks are old and there’s no reinforcement except at the ends of each 8′ section. The highest point is 7’3″ and retains 24″ of earth; the second section is 6’9″ and retains 18″ of earth. A mason recommended replacing both section, and to check with the city about permits.

The city’s website says: “[Garden walls do not require a permit or plan check] if retaining less than 3’ of dirt* *Walls retaining more than 3’ are retaining wall and require permits.” A city planner told me that I need to hire a civil or structural engineer to design the replacement wall, which drastically increases my cost to repair. What exactly is the building code definition of a retaining wall vs garden wall? Is all this work necessary, or is the city being super anal?

This is in LA County. Thanks!

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