Santa Monica Poised to Pass the Nation’s Most Extensive Earthquake Retrofit Plan, Impacting Up to 2,000 Buildings

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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.

About 25 were significantly damaged, said structural engineer Ronald Hamburger, senior principal with Simpson Gumpertz & Heger in San Francisco.

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