LA’s Plans for Better Earthquake Safety

Daria Ibn-Tamas

Los Angeles, California

While earthquakes are a common occurrence in California, a recent effort by the Los Angeles City Council has taken a grand step to secure better earthquake safety for the area.  The City Council contacted building officials, sending them out to seek out and inventory all apartment edifices in the area that are in danger of collapsing in the event of a major earthquake.

Primarily, these building officials will focus on buildings that are supported b y a wood frame, which are more subject to destruction facing an earthquake.  These wood-supported buildings have proved to be a huge cause for concern in the past, such as the Northridge Meadows apartment complex that collapsed in a 1994 earthquake, ultimately killing 16 individuals.  It is estimated that there are approximately 5,800 buildings in Los Angeles that are currently supported by a wooden frame; undoubtedly a concerning statistic considering evidence against their stability, as suggested by past events.

Former city Councilman, Greig Smith, admits that this survey is something that should not have taken so long to set into motion.  “This is something that we should’ve done 20 years ago,” Smith comments. “An inventory will allow you to assess what the risks are.  And it hasn’t been done.”

Collecting the data to compile this list of risky properties is the first step- it is still undecided what the course of action will be once this list is completed.  However, what is important is that the plan of action has been set into motion. Current City Councilman Tom LaBonge is fully supportive of this movement and how much it stands to improve the city.  “It’s so key,” he says of the project. “You have to have the data to know how many buildings are like this and where they are.  And to give us a kind of road map of what we can do to improve these buildings.”

Similar efforts to improve the safety of buildings in the event of an earthquake have been initiated in the past, although roadblocks and complications slowed them from completion, or for reaching their full potential. Back in the 1980s, Los Angeles headed an effort to seek out around 8,000 brick buildings in the city and seeing to it that the property owners either restructure these buildings or demolish them completely.  However, issues with costs slowed efforts to retrofit other buildings with outdated structures.

To learn more about the plans of the city for these buildings and how they see it playing out, check out this article by the LA times.

Share this article!