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Proposal to give Calif. hospitals more time for earthquake retrofits stirs controversy

Codes and Standards

Proposal to give Calif. hospitals more time for earthquake retrofits stirs controversy

State hospital association says 2030 deadline should be extended.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | July 21, 2021

A proposal in the California Assembly to extend a deadline for hospitals to make seismic retrofits has drawn sharp criticism from labor groups.

The controversy pertains to two requirements passed in the wake of the 1994 Northridge earthquake that destroyed many buildings in Southern California. Almost all of the state’s hospitals have already met the first requirement to meet standards that ensure buildings don’t collapse during a major quake. The second mandate is more costly for hospitals and more controversial.

It calls for hospitals to be able to remain operable and serve patients after a major quake by 2030. Nearly two-thirds of hospitals have yet to meet that goal. The California Hospital Association is asking for a seven-year extension as well as more limited scope. The association wants the rule to only apply to emergency facilities.

The legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom are still working out details of the state’s $263 billion budget, two weeks after the new fiscal year began. The hospital provision is a major sticking point.

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