Los Angeles County Looks to Mandate Seismic Retrofits

In the wake of the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in Turkey and Syr­ia, the Los Ange­les Coun­ty Board of Super­vi­sors vot­ed to cre­ate rules for a manda­to­ry retro­fit of coun­ty-owned and those locat­ed in unin­cor­po­rat­ed coun­ty areas. Rebec­ca Ellis and Rong-Gong Lin II report on the sto­ry for the Los Ange­les Times.

The tar­get­ed build­ings, called ‘non-duc­tile,’ involve a lack of suf­fi­cient steel rein­force­ment in their con­crete frames, can to cat­a­stroph­ic col­lapse. “ type of was deemed so unsafe that it was banned for future con­struc­tion by the 1980s. But local gov­ern­ments have done lit­tle to order old­er build­ings be eval­u­at­ed and strength­ened if found to be defi­cient.” Non-duc­tile build­ings have caused sig­nif­i­cant casu­al­ties in earth­quakes around the world.

“The super­vi­sors also to cre­ate an inven­to­ry in unin­cor­po­rat­ed areas of all ‘soft-sto­ry’ res­i­den­tial build­ings — vul­ner­a­ble to come tum­bling down in the next big earth­quake,” such as the well-known L.A. ‘ding­bats,’ a type of apart­ment build­ing whose sec­ond sto­ry rests on thin sup­ports above ground-lev­el car­ports in the mid-20th cen­tu­ry. In 2015, the city of Los Ange­les took a sim­i­lar action, going a step fur­ther to require seis­mic retro­fits on thou­sands of non-duc­tile and soft-sto­ry build­ings (not all of which have com­plied with the ordi­nance). Oth­er Cal­i­for­nia cities have imple­ment­ed sim­i­lar ordi­nances for non-duc­tile, soft-sto­ry, or both types of build­ings.

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