Santa Monica Is Looking To Retrofit Up To 2000 Buildings

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - 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, it was reported  today.  

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, the Los Angeles Times reported. 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.   No steel building suffered a catastrophic failure that took lives in the  Northridge quake, but some were so badly damaged they had to be demolished. 

Under a proposed city law, suspect Santa Monica buildings will be required to undergo a seismic evaluation and, if necessary, be retrofitted. "We are very committed here in Santa Monica to make sure that we are  resilient in the face of possible catastrophe,” Mayor Ted Winterer said in comments cited by The Times. "We want to make sure that we are doing  everything we can to protect our community.''  The mayor acknowledged that the price tag of retrofits would be a burden in the short term. City officials estimate a cost of $5,000 to $10,000 per  unit to retrofit a typical wood apartment building and $50 to $100 per square  foot for concrete and steel buildings. "But taking the long view -- that process is much preferable to the  loss of life and the destruction of buildings,'' Winterer said.   

The city's move comes more than three years after The Times reported how Santa Monica quietly stopped enforcing its earthquake safety regulations. Santa Monica had actually passed laws in the 1990s requiring retrofits of these  buildings. But the mandatory retrofit effort quietly faded in the early 2000s amid the departure of key staff, The Times reported. By 2013, the city could not  find its old list of possibly vulnerable buildings.

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