Following Through on Earthquake Safety

Photo of building damaged in earthquake from LADBS web site.

Photo of building damaged in earthquake from LADBS web site.

For a while now I’ve been meaning to follow up on a post I did in 2014 about seismic retrofitting. Back then Mayor Garcetti proposed evaluating buildings based on how they’d weather an earthquake, and to make the information available to the public. This was to be the first step in creating a program to reinforce thousands of soft-story apartment buildings, i.e., older wood-frame structures with parking tucked under the units.

It was a great idea, but I have to admit I was skeptical about the Mayor pulling it off. Everybody agreed that it was important to upgrade these older buildings, but implementing such a program meant that landlords and tenants would have to shell out a lot of money to make it happen. I was afraid that after the initial hype faded away, the initiative would die a quiet death at the hands of some committee at City Hall.

I was wrong. Garcetti brought Lucy Jones on board, and she successfully spearheaded the effort to make this happen. The City Council adopted the ordinance in 2015. Earlier this year the Department of Building and Safety started sending letters to property owners letting them know what they have to do to comply. The program will be rolled out in phases, tackling the most risky buildings first. Landlords will be allowed to pass a portion of the cost along to tenants.

The Mayor deserves credit for making this happen, as does Lucy Jones. It wasn’t easy selling it to anxious landlords and tenants. It’ll take years for the process to be completed, but this ordinance will save lives when the next earthquake hits.

If you’d like more information, follow this link to the page at the Department of Building and Safety.

Soft-Story Retrofit Program at LADBS

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