UC Releases List of 1,451 Possibly Quake-Risk Buildings

LOS ANGELES - The University of California has released its list of 1,451 large concrete buildings in the City of Los Angeles that were built before regulations were enacted to reduce the chances of collapse in a strong earthquake, it was reported today.

And release of the list now has civic leaders wondering how to pay for engineering inspections to see if the buildings really are risky, and then how to finance and force building owners to reinforce the structures, used by an estimated 220,000 people per day, the Los Angeles Times reported.

UC Berkeley initially resisted The Times and City of Los Angeles efforts to get the list, which was drawn up with a $3.6 million federal grant but then kept secret by UC Berkeley scientists.

But the UC researchers sent it to the city on Tuesday, and The Times immediately filed a state public records act request to get it. The newspaper published a list of the 1,451 buildings on its web site, www.latimes.com , today.

The buildings include public schools, universities, warehouses, and office buildings. Several hospitals, malls, schools, condo towers and landmark buildings are on the list, as are city-owned office buildings.

Researchers travelled across the city and looked for concrete buildings that had original building permits issued before 1976, when California construction standards were tightened because of the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake.

The list of older concrete buildings was then cross-referenced by The Times with census and city records, and the newspaper determined that about 220,000 people live in, or work in, the 1,451 structures.

The concrete buildings are concentrated in the city's downtown and Mid-Wilshire and Hollywood districts, as well as residential high-rises in Westwood and Encino.

UC Berkeley researchers estimated only about 75 of the buildings would collapse in a major quake, but the survey was done from sidewalks and does not include any interior engineering inspection of the buildings, which could cost $4,000 to $20,000, depending on size.

Lead scientist Mary Comerio said a major quake on the Puente Hills thrust fault, which runs directly beneath downtown Los Angeles, could kill between 300 and 2,000 people in concrete structures alone, and could inflict $20 billion in damages.

Retrofitting the older buildings would cut the toll to between 5-50 fatalities, and $6 billion in quake damages, The Times reported.

More than 26,000 people live in possibly susceptible buildings in Hollywood, and city councilman Mitch O'Farrell told The Times that going back decades into building record and surveying existing risk ``will create an incredible strain on our own resources as well as the financial resources of our constituents.

"Let's be clear on one thing: these buildings in question were built decades ago, and have withstood many earthquakes since then,'' he reportedly told The Times.

The list includes numerous landmarks that have been remodeled, and possibly retrofitted, in recent years. The Times noted that researchers said the list may contain errors and may include structures that do not belong there, and may have missed others that should be inspected.


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