LA Mayor Garcetti pushes bold earthquake resiliency plan

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hopes to have ordinances passed this year to advance his bold earthquake plan that calls for retrofitting of vulnerable buildings.

If a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake strikes today, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates some 300,000 buildings in the city of Los Angeles will be destroyed or damaged. That's why the city has been working on a plan to minimize the damage and keep the region running.

The plan includes ways to keep Wi-Fi and telecommunication systems from collapsing and also fortifying major water systems.

"It is a more expensive process and that's what we hope to be able to, well, by giving people more time to come up with more approaches to be able to fund it and do it," said USGS seismologist Lucy Jones.

Part of the plan also focuses on identifying and retrofitting certain types of at-risk residential and commercial buildings. Under the plan, wood-frame buildings with large spaces on the ground floor would have to be retrofitted within five years.

Sixteen people were killed in the collapse of such a building during the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake. The magnitude 6.7 jolt was the last significant seismic disaster in the L.A. region.

Rescue workers walk past the Northridge Meadows Apartments that collapsed (left). This Pacific Palisades multimillion-dollar mansion was destroyed (right).



Contractor Michael Goldberg, owner of White Castle Construction in L.A., says retrofitting an old apartment building could cost around $40,000. That's a lot less than the hundreds of thousands of dollars he says it would take to replace it if destroyed by a powerful quake.

"I can't tell you what human life is worth. I can tell you what all the trouble is going to be to try to find people to fix them even if you had insurance, even if you could deal with the huge deductible on insurance," Goldberg said.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is working on ways to help property owners with the costs. He spoke about the legislative process during a presentation to the L.A. Chamber of Commerce.

"I'd like that clock to start ticking," the mayor told the meeting. "I'm flexible on a number of the details. I'm not flexible on whether we actually have these be mandatory and move forward."

Right now, there is no funding for the plan. The L.A. City Council is looking at various ordinances.

Garcetti is also looking at various funding sources including a statewide bond measure or tax credits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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