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L.A. to Take Survey of Apartments in City Vulnerable to Earthquakes

The council called on the city's Department of Building and Safety to create an inventory of the so-called "soft-story" buildings.

A scene from the Northridge earthquake in 1994. Patch file photo.
A scene from the Northridge earthquake in 1994. Patch file photo.

The Los Angeles City Council voted today to compile a list of wood-framed apartment buildings built prior to 1978 that could be considered vulnerable in an earthquake.

The council called on the city's Department of Building and Safety to create an inventory of the so-called "soft-story" buildings, such as apartments built above ground-floor parking garages.

Around 200 buildings destroyed or severely damaged in the 1994 Northridge quake were "soft-story" residential apartments. Sixteen people died when one of those buildings collapsed.

The council action today authorizes two building inspectors and a structural engineer to identify soft-story structures out of a list of nearly 30,000 buildings.

Building and Safety officials estimate that around 11,690 of those buildings will require site visits for the engineer to determine if the structures are soft-story. With the engineer able to do about 30 field inspections a day, it would take about a year to get through the list, officials said.

The count would apply to apartments or multi-residential properties in Los Angeles with at least two stories and five or more units.

The salaries of the three staffers will collectively be around $382,000, which has already been budgeted, according to a staff report.

The council's action came a day after the Santa Monica City Council voted to hire an engineering firm to create a list of steel-, concrete- and wood-frame buildings that could be at risk of collapsing in a big quake.

Santa Monica would be the first city in the state to make such a list and require that buildings identified as vulnerable be retrofitted.

The Los Angeles City Council's action does not include a requirement to retrofit buildings, but other motions under consideration would explore ways of funding retrofitting projects.

--City News Service


JMarsh May 29, 2014 at 11:12 AM
I am glad they are doing this. But I think they should take it a step further and inspect schools. LAUSD's superintendent seems to think it is okay to take the bond money we voted for school repairs to buy iPads instead. LAUSD's teachers don't want the money spent on iPads they want their schools repaired! Do you want your child attending a school that could collapse in an earthquake?

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