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Los Angeles Considers Major Earthquake Retrofits For Thousands Of At-Risk Buildings

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Today Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed new regulations that would require property owners to retrofit those buildings most likely to collapse in the event of a massive earthquake. Los Angeles would be the first city in California to impose these kinds of regulations. Garcetti has been working on earthquake safety with U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, also known as "the earthquake lady," who joined him at today's press conference.

Two of the most dangerous kinds of buildings in Los Angeles are those pre-1980 wooden or concrete buildings that sit on top of weaker ground floors. An example would be those "soft-first-story" buildings that sit on top of garages or carports where the structural support comes in the form of slender columns, the L.A. Times reports.

These kinds of buildings are extremely common, and thousands of Angelenos either live or work in them. Seismic experts say that if we don't fix this problem, hundreds could die when the Big One hits.

So, here's what Garcetti proposes: he wants wooden buildings retrofitted in the next 5 years and the concrete ones to be retrofitted in the next 30. Some of these retrofits can cost thousands and sometimes millions each, but Garcetti believes doing nothing could have deadly consequences as well as devastating results for the local economy. This could also potentially affect the national economy, considering that L.A. hosts the largest cargo port in the U.S. A previous Los Angeles Times article noted the Capitol Records tower, the Hollywood Plaza apartments and the W Hotel in Westwood could all be at risk.

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Other pre-emptive safety measures include making improvements to the water system and protecting the San Andreas fault, NBC LA reports.

"Instead of being complacent and then jarred into action by a devastating earthquake, L.A. is moving forward proactively with a comprehensive package of preparedness and resiliency measures to fortify our buildings, protect our water supply and keep our telecommunications online when the 'Big One' hits," Garcetti said in a statement.

Related:
Map: See Where The Earthquake Fault Line Runs In Hollywood
City To Create Earthquake Safety Rating System For Buildings
Capitol Records Tower At Risk In Big Quake Says LA Times