Los Angeles Prepares For New Earthquake Safety Ordinance

Los Angeles Prepares For New Earthquake Safety Ordinance
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is in favor of implementing an ordinance requiring the nation's strongest earthquake safety rules for the city. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 9 ( Ed Adamczyk ) — Los Angeles’ city council is expected to pass the country’s most stringent earthquake retrofit safety rules Friday.

The ordinance would require up to 15,000 buildings in the city deemed “seismically hazardous” to undergo extensive improvements to secure them in earthquake situations. Concrete buildings and wooden apartment complexes with weak lower stories are primary targets of the rules; over 65 people died in such structures in the city’s last two earthquakes.

Mandatory upgrades to the wooden buildings could cost owners up to $130,000; strengthening taller concrete buildings could take millions of dollars.

City government has been slow to respond to recommendations by structural engineers that Los Angeles’ housing stock needs to be reinforced against earthquakes, but Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city council, in the past year, have pressed the issue. They noted failure to prepare for an earthquake could result in a high death toll, as well making large sections of the city unlivable.

“For the city of Los Angeles, we finally took our head out of the sand. We can’t be that city that takes years, even decades, to get back to where we are today,” Garcetti said last year.

Under the ordinance, owners of wood-frame housing would have seven years to complete the required retrofits after an order from the city’s Department of Building and Safety. Changes to concrete buildings could take up to 25 years. A current law allows landlords to raise rents up to $75 per month to pay for a required modification, a figure expected to remain in place.


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