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Argument for Brick Delays Quake Vote

June 23, 1988|JESSE KATZ | Times Staff Writer

A seismologist who says brick buildings do not pose an earthquake hazard has persuaded the Ventura City Council to delay a proposed ordinance that would require upgrading of most unreinforced masonry structures.

Council members were prepared to vote Monday on the ordinance, which calls for building owners to spend more than $5 million over the next six years to protect against earthquakes.

But critics, who say the repairs may not be necessary, presented a report from the Brick Building Defense Project indicating that unreinforced masonry is more resistant to seismic activity than believed by most engineers.

Damaged brick develops cracks in a vertical, stair-stepped pattern that continues to support buildings and absorb tremors, according to the project's founder, former U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Robert Nason.

Nason, who formed the group in Los Angeles and San Francisco to fight similar upgrading ordinances, bases his theory on what he says is the survival rate of brick buildings in past earthquakes.

City officials had received a report from their own geological consultants last month indicating that the proposed upgrading was based on a conservative view of earthquake history, and that even stricter standards might be recommended.

Council members agreed to delay any decision until after an Aug. 17 study session.

Under the proposed ordinance, owners of 147 brick buildings would face repairs averaging $6.58 a square foot.

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