LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some of the buildings that collapsed during the massive earthquakes in Syria and Turkey are known as non-ductile concrete structures.
"The thing about concrete is it's very strong, but it's not very flexible," said Joe Demers, an engineer with Alpha Structural Inc., which performs earthquake retrofitting. "So during an earthquake, a building has to be able to move a little bit."
Simply put, retrofitting requires adding reinforcement with steel bars to such buildings.
"All over the world, we see major devastation as a result of earthquakes. So, we know that they're coming. I think it's incumbent upon us to be ready," said L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell.
Mitchell introduced a motion co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis that passed this week, requiring some of these buildings to be retrofitted within the next decade.
It applies to concrete, high-rise, non-ductile structures owned by the county or in unincorporated regions built before 1976.
It also calls for an inventory of soft-story buildings and recommendations for a pilot and permanent program that would provide financial assistance to private property owners of soft-story buildings in unincorporated regions that would eventually be required to retrofit their buildings.
It's imperative to retrofit soft-story buildings, said Mitchell, pointing out they are often in low-income communities.
"Many of them are Section 8 properties," Mitchell said. "From my perspective, they are properties that are not only vulnerable, but are critical in our effort to keep Angelenos housed."
Alpha Structural Inc. told Eyewitness News the cost of a non-ductile retrofit can range between roughly $400,000 and up to millions for larger buildings.
Soft-story retrofits can cost between $40,000 for a small building to $1.5 million for larger building or complexes, the company said.
"The goal is to identify the properties that need retrofitting," she said. "Make sure that either the county as a landlord or private landlords understand the process."