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Unreinforced Housing Units

March 10, 1988

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.

If approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor, AB 2792 would place on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot a $250-million bond referendum. Then, if California voters approved, the bonds would be sold and the proceeds would be allocated to local agencies that hav1696621423mitigation plan.

Those agencies, in turn, would make low-interest loans available for apartment building renovations to landlords who met specific locally determined criteria.

While there may be those landlords who simply refuse to do anything to improve their properties, many others cannot afford the traditional financing mechanisms available for reconstruction and renovation. Or, the traditional loans are not available.

Without the improvements, lives are at risk.

Ultimately, the unsafe housing could be condemned and demolished. And the lost housing units would most greatly affect people of lower incomes, the same people who already have difficulty finding adequate, affordable housing in California's expensive market.

WILLIE L. BROWN JR.

Speaker of the Assembly

Sacramento

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