When Los Angeles was hit last Oct. 1 with a major earthquake, 80% of some 700 apartment buildings which suffered damages were of unreinforced masonry, the most vulnerable to earthquakes. Almost 1,400 families were displaced.
Los Angeles alone has 1,400 unreinforced brick buildings containing more than 30,000 housing units, most of which are home to low-income families. More than 300 unreinforced residential hotels house senior citizens and singles. The average cost of seismic safety improvements runs from $8,000 to $15,000 per unit.
This is why I have introduced Assembly Bill 2792, the Earthquake Housing Assistance Act of 1988, a measure designed to assist apartment building owners in making necessary improvements that will better prepare and protect residents and their residences in the event of another major earthquake. (AB 2792 is set for hearing by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on March 14.)
Last year, the Legislature required cities and counties to inventory their unreinforced masonry buildings and to adopt ordinances aimed at mitigating the potential damage of a major quake to those buildings. The magnitude of the job and the cost of the necessary structural improvements is staggering.