West Hollywood creates list of buildings that need earthquake retrofitting

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- City officials in West Hollywood want to get ahead of the next massive earthquake that could strike Southern California at any moment.

A list of hundreds of structures that could be at risk if a large earthquake strikes was created so officials know which buildings may need to be retrofitted.

"We started this project about three years ago. We know we live in earthquake country. We're standing on the Sunset Strip - there's actually a fault underneath us," Mayor Pro Tem John Duran said.

Most are classified as wood-framed, soft-story buildings.

"They're multi-unit buildings that were thrown up very quickly in the 40s and 50s, where you'd have some carports underneath and then poles holding up the rest of the building," Duran said.

Building owners on the list will need to have their complex assessed and comply if it needs to be retrofitted.

"The city will send out a certified letter to all the property owners that have a building on that list. We are planning to send them out most likely this summer," said John Keho, with planning and development.

A retrofit for a soft-story building could be anywhere between $40,000 and $160,000. The city will be holding public hearings to discuss how those changes would be paid for.

"This is the dilemma: Nobody wants to pay for earthquake retrofitting. Landlords don't want to pay. Tenants don't want to pay. We're going through an exercise now to figure out a way to share that between landlords and tenants, and make arrangements so that people who are low-income, have disabilities or senior citizens have subsidies provided possibly by the city," Duran said.

Duran said there is concern about affordable housing because if a rent-controlled building were destroyed in a quake, it would lose its status. Duran said the building would need to be knocked down and a brand new complex would take its place, which would not be under rent control.

Most owners will have five years to comply.

"The reality is we live in Southern California and it's been 25 years since the Northridge quake. We are due. It's going to happen," Duran said.
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