UCLA buildings deemed 'threats to life' in strong earthquake

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Saturday, August 31, 2019
UCLA buildings deemed 'threats to life' in strong quake
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Several UCLA buildings have been deemed 'threats to life' in a major earthquake.

WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Several UCLA buildings have been deemed "threats to life" in a major earthquake.

A new seismic risk assessment has deemed three of the university's structures to be a severe risk to life and 15 others to be a serious risk to life should a strong quake strike.

"There's going to be substantial damage, absolutely," said Kenneth O'Dell, President of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California.

O'Dell says the earthquake safety findings are a vital first step to bringing UCLA's buildings up to date.

"The UC regents have done a great job," he said. "They have studied the risk. They now understand the risk. Their next step is to prioritize how to solve that."

UCLA points out that all three of its worst-rated buildings are off campus and unoccupied. They are the Kneller House, the nearly 80-year-old Nimoy Theater, formerly known as the Crest Theater, and the Clark Library Gate House.

As for the 15 buildings rated a serious threat to life, UCLA Vice Chancellor Gregg Goldman says the university has a seismic retrofit plan in place right now, but is waiting for the money to pay for it.

"UCLA hopes to receive construction funding to repair its high-priority buildings if California's spring General Obligation bond measure is approved by voters," Goldman wrote in a statement.

California Governor Gavin Newsom says infrastructure within the entire UC system has been neglected for years and that its important voters pass that bond in 2020. "In seismically prone parts of the state, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, we clearly need this investment," Newsom told Eyewitness News.

UC Berkeley is in even worse shape. It has six buildings deemed a severe threat to life in a large quake and 62 deemed to be serious threats