L.A. mayor proposes mandatory seismic retrofits for steel buildings, daycare centers, private schools

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a seismic retrofit requirement for vulnerable steel buildings built before the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

March 12, 2018 |

Garcetti’s plan to make buildings more resilient to earthquakes would also apply to daycare centers and private schools. The proposal comes after the recently published Resilient Los Angeles report said steel buildings constructed from the early 1970s through 1994 were susceptible to earthquake damage because of welding techniques, the inspection process, the filler metal used in the welds and the configuration of the connection between vertical columns and horizontal beams.

According to a U.S. Geological Survey study, there are five steel buildings in Southern California that could collapse in a major earthquake, potentially causing hundreds of deaths and injuries. Steel buildings once were considered to be among the most resistant to earthquakes, but about 25 “steel moment frame” buildings fractured after the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake in 1994.

The Resilient Los Angeles report also argues for stronger minimum earthquake standards for all new construction. Los Angeles already has some of California’s strongest earthquake retrofit laws that apply to brick buildings, concrete-frame structures, and wood-frame apartments.

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