2,100 build­ings in L.A. get­ting quake retrofits

More than 15% of the vul­ner­a­ble wood apart­ments in the city have be­gun process.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Rong-Gong Lin II

Eigh­teen months af­ter Los An­ge­les passed the na­tion’s most sweep­ing seis­mic retro­fit law, more than 15% of the city’s earth­quake-vul­ner­a­ble wood apart­ment build­ings have be­gun the process of retrofits.

More than 2,100 build­ings have ei­ther been retro­fit­ted or are in the process of be­ing strength­ened out of about 13,500 that have been iden­ti­fied, city of­fi­cials said. And that’s six years be­fore the first build­ings must be retro­fit­ted un­der the law.

These are the kinds of wood apart­ments “that crushed peo­ple in 1994,” Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti said, re­fer­ring to the Northridge earth­quake, which killed 16 peo­ple when the up­per floors of an apart­ment com­plex col­lapsed on the ground floor.

“That means prop­erty saved, and more im­por­tantly, peo­ple saved,” Garcetti said of what would hap­pen in the next ma­jor earth­quake. “We’re just ex­cited to see so many of the folks do­ing it.”

“We just pray the earth­quake doesn’t come be­fore we fin­ish this work,” the mayor said. “And when it does come, we’re all go­ing to be bet­ter off.”

It was only 13 months ago that the Depart­ment of Build­ing and Safety be­gan send­ing out retro­fit or­ders for wood apart­ments with flimsy ground sto­ries that are usu­ally held up above first-floor car­ports by skinny col­umns that can snap dur­ing shak­ing.

The city is about half­way through the process of mail­ing retro­fit or­ders to own­ers, and that phase is ex­pected to be com­pleted this year.

Of­fi­cials are also work­ing on fi­nal­iz­ing a list of about 1,500 brit­tle con­crete build­ings that would also need to be retro­fit­ted if found to be at risk for dam­age in an earth­quake. The Depart­ment of Build­ing and Safety first pri­or­i­tized build­ings with 16 or more units and three or more sto­ries; all of those struc­tures have been

or­dered to com­ply with the law.

“We know that this work will save lives,” Garcetti told sci­en­tists and com­mu­nity lead­ers who gath­ered at the mayor’s res­i­dence to talk about seis­mic safety. “We are two years ahead of any other big city in Amer­ica on the work that we’ve done.”

Three new ini­tia­tives Garcetti also an­nounced three new ini­tia­tives:

Lo­cal­ized pre­pared­ness: Work on pre­pared­ness plans spe­cific to each of L.A.’s neigh­bor­hoods.

Re­silience hubs: Work with com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions to de­velop emer­gency neigh­bor­hood “re­silience hubs,” where res­i­dents might meet, charge phones and stay in touch with first re­spon­ders and where wa­ter, food and first aid sup­plies could be stored.

Seis­mic safety task force: Re­con­vene a may­oral com- mit­tee on earth­quake safety “to de­velop new rec­om­men­da­tions to keep our build­ings safe.”

Garcetti de­clined to say whether steel-frame build­ings should be re­quired to be retro­fit­ted, as Santa Mon­ica this year reaf­firmed it would do.

“The whole point is to con­vene it to try to look at what’s next,” Garcetti said. “Ev­ery­thing will be on the ta­ble.”

L.A.’s earth­quake retrof it law Wood apart­ments Es­ti­mated 13,500 build­ings 298 retrofits were com­pleted; 1,841 are un­der­way

Or­ders to retro­fit be­gan be­ing is­sued in 2016, and will con­tinue this year

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing an or­der to com­ply, there are dead­lines of: two years to sub­mit plans to retro­fit or de­mol­ish, or sub­mit proof of a pre­vi­ous retro­fit; 3½ years to ob­tain a per­mit to start con­struc­tion or de­mo­li­tion; seven years to com­plete con­struc­tion.

Brit­tle con­crete build­ings Es­ti­mated 1,500 build­ings The Depart­ment of Build­ing and Safety is still work­ing on cre­at­ing a list of sus­pect build­ings

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing an or­der to com­ply, there are dead­lines of: three years to sub­mit in­for­ma­tion to the city to de­ter­mine if the build­ing is a “non-duc­tile” con­crete build­ing; 10 years to sub­mit plans to retro­fit or de­mol­ish the build­ing, or sub­mit proof of a pre­vi­ous retro­fit; 25 years to com­plete con­struc­tion.

Chip So­mod­ev­illa Getty Images

“WE JUST pray the earth­quake doesn’t come be­fore we fin­ish,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said of the retrofits.

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