Westside Cities Consider Earthquake Retrofitting for Thousands of Vulnerable Buildings

Crushed cars sit underneath a collapsed apartment building in the 19100 block of Victory Boulevard after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. (Credit: Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

Crushed cars sit underneath a collapsed apartment building in the 19100 block of Victory Boulevard after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. (Credit: Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

The movement to retrofit buildings at risk of collapse in a large earthquake could take a major step forward in the coming months as three prominent Westside cities — Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and West Hollywood — consider sweeping laws mandating that thousands of structures be strengthened.

The move is part of a larger political movement that began in San Francisco and Los Angeles to tackle seismic retrofitting that is slowly spreading to smaller communities around the state.

The three Westside cities are affluent and boast some of the region’s most valuable real estate. But seismic experts have long been concerned about how the cities would fare in a major quake, especially because the Hollywood fault runs through the heart of them. A 2014 Los Angeles Times data analysis found that about 12,000 properties were within 500 feet of earthquake faults newly mapped that year in Los Angeles County, including landmark structures on the Sunset Strip, Wilshire Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard.

If all three cities approve the rules, it would greatly expand a campaign launched last year in Southern California by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that created the nation’s toughest earthquake safety law. Los Angeles’ law requires retrofitting of wooden apartment and concrete buildings. As many as 13,500 wooden buildings and 1,500 concrete buildings are now being evaluated for possible retrofitting.

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