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Quake Fears Keep Some Residents Out of Homes

October 08, 1987|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Still jittery from the earthquake and aftershocks, some Glendale residents say they are sleeping outdoors this week, afraid to stay inside old buildings.

"People are too scared to go inside. There are cracks in the walls," said Louis Gonzalez, 36, who lives in an unreinforced brick building in the south-central area of the city. "Everybody on the block has been staying on the street at night."

Glendale city officials say the fear is unwarranted.

While neighboring communities have suffered huge losses, damage in Glendale has been minor and scattered, said George Miller, public works director. The city "is in very good shape," he said, even though 380 buildings--all constructed before 1938--do not meet the city's new earthquake safety code.

Nevertheless, signs of the earthquake are evident one week after the 6.1 temblor. The most visible damage is broken display windows and fallen plaster along older storefronts on North Brand Boulevard.

Todd Fort, manager of Cost Plus Imports at 240 N. Brand Blvd., said more than $45,000 in glassware, ceramics and other merchandise toppled from shelves and broke. "I'll have to start all over again to build my Christmas inventory," Fort said. The items were not insured.

Wall Cracks

Shoppers and customers quickly notice long cracks in the walls and fallen chunks of marble facade at the landmark six-story Security Pacific building at 100 N. Brand Blvd., just recently renovated at a cost of $2 million. The steel-reinforced building is not structurally damaged, but repairs will cost $15,000, said Brad Barnes of Dorn Platz & Co., the property manager.

Broken windows are covered with plywood at the F.W. Woolworth store at 201 N. Brand Blvd., where eight panes disintegrated into piles of glass on the sidewalk. Store manager Allen Huynh said he has not estimated the replacement cost. He also said he does not know the value of his losses from the quake, which broke glassware and lamps and spilled chemicals.

The Danica Furniture Store at 209 N. Brand Blvd. also lost windows. Wall panels fell from the J.J. Newberry store at 225 N. Brand Blvd. Luckily, city officials said, the streets were nearly vacant during the 7:42 a.m. quake, and no injuries were reported.

Gary Simon, owner of the Beauty Sleep Center at 333 N. Brand Blvd., quickly took advantage of the situation. He painted "Earthquake Sale" in bold white letters next to the crack in his display window. Simon admits that the only other damage at the store consists of a few fallen bricks in an upstairs room and a television set that fell.

Minor Landslide

Miller said city inspectors have checked all construction and grading projects, as well as bridges throughout the city. No problems have been found, he said. One minor landslide occurred, near Linda Vista Road and Buckingham Road, but was quickly cleaned up, Miller said.

Despite the relatively light damage, many Glendale residents say their nerves are still rattling.

About 90 residents of a Glendale apartment house have refused to stay in their building at 225 E. Garfield Ave. They say they have been sleeping outdoors for the last week because they fear that the three-story unreinforced brick building will collapse.

"There are many children living here, and this building is very old," said Francisca Escovedo, 46, who has managed the apartment building for seven years. She lives in a basement apartment with several children. City officials said the structure is more than 50 years old and constructed of unreinforced masonry.

Calls from neighbors about the plight of the residents prompted the Glendale Fire Department on Monday to ask the Red Cross to open a temporary shelter, said Fire Marshall Chris Gray.

City officials said the 38-unit building was inspected three times after the quake and found to be safe. But Monday a temporary shelter was set up anyway at Roosevelt Junior High School, two blocks away. After city officials inspected the apartment building again on Tuesday, residents were sent home. Red Cross officials said they do not plan to reopen the shelter at Roosevelt.

"We don't know what spurred the residents to leave the apartment building," Gray said. "We did not order an evacuation. Maybe their action was in response to the effect the media has had."

The Garfield Avenue apartment building is among several hundred buildings that eventually will have to be reinforced for earthquake safety or torn down, said Alexander C. Pyper, building superintendent.

The city's new seismic safety ordinance, the result of three years of study, was adopted only a week before the earthquake. Pyper said none of the old buildings in town have been damaged enough to require owners to comply with the code immediately. Owners have 30 months to six years to make improvements.

However, Pyper said that repairs, using modern cement mortar to replace fallen bricks, rather than the old-fashioned lime mortar, will make repaired buildings much stronger than they are now.

Pyper said city inspectors have checked more than 75 structures, mostly older apartment buildings. He said the city also has inspected all older office and commercial buildings.

"We have reviewed the whole city and all buildings are still structurally safe and inhabitable," Pyper said. "So far, we've been lucky."

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