Researchers have for years warned the public, various government agencies and building owners/managers of the potential dangers related to older buildings within reach of Southern California’s notorious faults in a major earthquake. In short, what building experts once thought would be sufficient, in terms of structural design requirements, we now know could leave building occupants seriously injured, or worse.
Los Angeles’ city council has been working on a seismic retrofit program for buildings previously identified by various experts as at risk. Beginning tomorrow, Santa Monica will formally announce its own mandatory seismic retrofit program. The LA Times’ Rong-Gong Lin II, Raoul Rañoa and Jon Schleuss have more:
Santa Monica is poised to require safety improvements to as many as 2,000 earthquake-vulnerable buildings in what would be the nation’s most extensive seismic retrofitting effort.
Santa Monica’s safety rules would go beyond what Los Angeles has done by requiring not only wood apartments and concrete buildings to be retrofitted, but also steel-frame structures.
Steel buildings were once considered by seismic experts to be among the safest. But after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, engineers were stunned to find that so-called “steel moment frame” buildings fractured.
Santa Monica City Council has already established a website to serve as a central repository for the latest info regarding the program. Of the six building types listed, the first to require a structural evaluation report to be submitted will be unreinforced masonry buildings, which must submit their evaluation within 3 months and have retrofits completed within 2 years.
As this is a developing story, expect to hear much more about this issue over the coming months.
You can download the complete list of addresses identified by the city in Excel format from the city’s GitHub repository (meaning the file will likely be updated over time).