Despite pending questions over the cost of renovating thousands of old buildings, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a law on Friday demanding mandatory upgrades for vulnerable structures in the city.
Around 13,500 multi-storey apartment buildings will need to be renovated as part of the proposal, intended to consolidate structures likely to collapse in an earthquake. About 1,500 concrete buildings will also need renovations.
Renowned seismologist Lucy Jones, who spent a year working with Garcetti’s office, compared the law to measures the city took over 30 years ago to reinforce masonry buildings.
âThere is going to be a future earthquake,â Jones said. “If that passes, we will say that no one died in this earthquake because of the actions taken by the council.”
With the legislation, Los Angeles becomes the first US city to require a renovation mandate for non-ductile concrete buildings, according to seismic experts.
Several California cities are already requiring the modernization of low-story buildings, defined as structures with open parking or commercial space at the bottom of the structure.
While the law marks a milestone for Garcetti’s seismic safety program, city hall officials have yet to clarify who will pay for the renovations, estimated at around $ 5,000 per apartment unit.
Los Angeles City Council will address the issue of costs later this year.
The city’s piecemeal approach has sparked concern from Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, who is concerned that tenants are incurring significant renovation costs.
âUntil we see (the plan) we’re worried,â Gross said.
The Northridge earthquake in 1994 destroyed approximately 200 multi-storey apartment buildings. Sixteen people died in the Northridge Meadows multi-storey apartment complex in the earthquake, the city’s largest concentration of fatalities.