I have to say I’m impressed by Mayor Garcetti’s earthquake safety plan. The idea of rating buildings according to how well they’d weather a quake, and making that information available to the public, is pretty smart. It’s been suggested that LA should a adopt a mandatory retrofit program for soft story buildings, which is what San Francisco has done. The problem, of course, is that property owners are freaked out by the potential cost. Renters aren’t happy either, since San Francisco’s law allows landlords to pass the cost along to tenants over a twenty year period.
But soft story buildings need to be upgraded. Failing to do so could mean a massive death toll when the next major quake strikes LA. So how do you get property owners and renters to support a costly retrofit program? By rating buildings according to how safe they are. Garcetti’s plan will make the public aware of how serious the threat is. People will probably be much more willing to support retrofitting once they realize that their property or their life could be at stake.
The only drawback is that this will take time. Garcetti’s earthquake czar, Lucy Jones, has emphasized that this isn’t going to happen right away. The work of creating a rating system and then actually evaluating all the buildings at risk will probably take two or three years. Let’s hope we have that much time.
But this is a good first step. I’m impressed that Garcetti is leading the way on this. I’ll be even more impressed if he makes it happen.
For more details, here’s the story from the LA Times.