Proposal to List Buildings Vulnerable to Earthquakes Sparks Debate

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles councilman’s call for the city to consider creating an inventory of thousands of so-called soft-story apartments that could collapse during a major earthquake is already generating debate.

quake buildings

Cars are crushed underneath tilted apartment buildings after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. (credit: LA Times)

This first-of-its-kind list would apply to buildings in Los Angeles built before 1978 with at least two stories and at least five units.

Councilman Tom LaBonge’s proposal marks the first significant seismic safety effort in Los Angeles in years. It comes four months after San Francisco passed a landmark law forcing owners to strengthen about 3,000 soft-story apartment buildings. City officials there estimated the retrofits — which involve strengthening the bottom floor — will cost $60,000 to $130,000 per building.

During the 1994 Northridge earthquake, about 200 of these buildings in the L.A.-area were seriously damaged or destroyed, including the Northridge Meadows apartment complex, where 16 people died. After that quake, L.A. city building officials talked about identifying other soft-story buildings and requiring owners to retrofit them. But the proposal died.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

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