Engineers inspect one of the buildings at the Northridge Meadows Apartments early on January 18, 1994 in one of the area hardest hit by the January 17 earthquake. Sixteen people died in the building after the first floor of the building collapsed. Photo: Getty Images
WEST HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - West Hollywood has identified more than 800 buildings that could be at risk of damage or collapse in a major earthquake, part of a comprehensive effort to inventory them and require retrofits, it was reported today.
About 90 percent of the 821 buildings on the list are thought to be wood-frame structures, such as apartments with carports on the ground floor, the Los Angeles Times reported. The rest are believed to be concrete or steel.
Officials emphasized that properties on the list are not necessarily unsafe, and that further study will be required to determine whether retrofitting is needed, according to The Times.
West Hollywood is one of several California cities attempting to strengthen buildings before the next major temblor, joining Santa Monica and Los Angeles among others. The Hollywood fault runs along the city's famed Sunset Strip, and buildings listed as needing further study include landmark hotels like the Andaz West Hollywood, Mondrian, Standard and Sunset Tower, The Times reported.
City officials say the mandatory retrofit law is needed not only to protect those in West Hollywood's apartments, offices and hotels, but also to keep rent-controlled affordable housing from being destroyed when the next earthquake strikes. Affordable housing is central to the identity of West Hollywood, which became its own city in 1984 on promises to stabilize rents. About 78 percent of West Hollywood's residents live in apartments, most of them rent-controlled, according to Mayor Pro Tempore John Duran.
“One good shaker without seismic reinforcements could bring many of those buildings into being red-tagged and having to be demolished, thus wiping out a good portion of our affordable housing stock,'' Duran said in remarks reported by The Times.