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Candidates Agree: Quake Law Shaky

December 04, 1986

When this writer advocated revision or abrogation of our Draconian earthquake ordinance during the last election, he had the satisfaction of seeing the initial hostility to this proposal change to a consensus--at least among 95% of the council candidates--that this ordinance was a bigger threat to our landmark structures than any potential quake.

It became obvious that the only thing that could save these fine buildings--Sovereign, Villa Riviera, Lafayette Condominiums, etc.--was a political earthquake.

Your article, "LB Panel Urges Shake-Up of Quake Law," shows that the consensus for change is spreading--and only the intransigence of the City Council threatens these historic and cultural assets. The good news is that only one of the nine councilmen was sitting when the council adopted the earthquake ordinance.

It is the only such ordinance in the state, country, world. It attempts to impose the Field Act on these structures--and experts agree this is absurd. That's why no other jurisdiction has adopted it. The recent L.A. ordinance is not nearly so severe.

It should be noted that all of those buildings survived the 1933 earthquake. That no lives were lost in any of them--none, not one. And that the ordinance exempts the very structures where damage and loss of life did occur.

Where is absolute safety? Fifty-three people were killed in the '33 quake. None in the landmark buildings impacted by our ordinance. People drown at the beach--but no one shuts them down. People die by the hundreds, thousands, in traffic accidents--but no one tears up the streets. People are victimized by criminals daily, but no one proposes to lock up every potential criminal.

The task force has worked well--but not well enough. The next step must be to eliminate this earthquake ordinance. It is unique to Long Beach because everywhere else it is already recognized as unworkable, whatever the expense.

But perhaps there is another agenda among its supporters.


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