California Considers Creating Directory of Buildings Most Likely to Collapse in an Earthquake

Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles already keep lists of vulnerable buildings, but a new piece of legislation would require all California cities do the same. The catch? The bill will not provide funding to support these lists.

2 minute read

September 25, 2018, 2:00 PM PDT

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark

Northridge Earthquake, 1994

Northridge Earthquake | kevincellis36109 / Flickr

Experts can spot certain tell-tale signs of earthquake vulnerability right away, but for those who aren't experts it can be harder to identify possibly dangerous buildings. "Now the Legislature has sent to Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would require cities and counties in the state’s most seismically vulnerable areas to create lists of buildings that could be at higher risk of major damage or collapse," Rong-Gong LIN II writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Those opposed to the bill point out that it creates no provision for funding the creation of this list. "But backers of the bill say creating a list of possibly vulnerable buildings would represent a major step in alerting Californians whether the buildings in which they live and work should receive more study to determine whether they’re at risk in an earthquake," Lin writes. Representatives from cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, who already maintain this type of list, say it's irresponsible for cities likely to be affected by seismic activity not to alert their citizens of the risks they face. How much would that cost? "Rough estimates published by legislative staffers say that while amounts are uncertain, costs that might need reimbursement by the state could be in the tens of millions of dollars to create an inventory by 2021, with a total possibly exceeding $100 million," Lin reports.

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