WeHo Launches Seismic Retrofit Initiative to Prepare for an Earthquake


The City of West Hollywood has launched a project to help prepare for a major earthquake. The city’s Building and Safety Division has contracted with Degenkolb Engineers, a firm that specializes in seismic analysis, evaluation and strengthening solutions, to survey the city’s existing building stock and to assist the city with a seismic retrofit ordinance.

Image: Earthquake in 1989On Dec. 2, teams of structural engineers began a citywide visual assessment of existing buildings from public right-of-ways. These engineers will catalog every building in the City of West Hollywood. The visual assessment will include taking photographs of buildings and is expected to be completed in February 2016.

Data collected in the survey will assist with phase two of the seismic program, which is the development of a retrofit ordinance. West Hollywood is a densely populated city with many buildings that are not retrofitted to withstand larger earthquakes. The city’s goal is to take a proactive approach to increase safety and minimize damage in the event of a major earthquake. Once the survey is complete, buildings that are potentially vulnerable can be identified, and a framework for a retrofit program can be tailored for the city.

While no building is absolutely earthquake-proof, the city is taking these precautionary measures to lessen the potential for catastrophic failure of our existing buildings. Retrofitting existing buildings will protect the safety of the people who live and work in West Hollywood, and lessen the economic impact following a major earthquake.

The likelihood of a major earthquake is the subject of debate. A report in the journal “Earth and Space Science” said the likelihood of an earthquake with a of magnitude of 5.5 or more is 99.9% between now and 2018. The U.S. Geologic Survey, however, says there is only an 85% chance of an earthquake of that magnitude.

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8 years ago

Phew! Only between 85 and 99.9 %.? What a relief. Meanwhile I’ll stay snug and cozy in my steel reinforced concrete building. Party on folks we’re all doomed eventually.

Brian Holt
Brian Holt
8 years ago

This is all well and good. Truly. It’s the right thing to do – in theory – but in practice? Hmmm. The biggest battle will lie in mid-size and large apartment dwellings, condos, etc where the retrofits will be expensive. Some will wonder – who shall pay? Should the costs be shared with the tenants? If so how – Rent increases? Will the City subsidize?

The city of LA is facing a similar issue. Google it. Let the games begin…

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