According to the L.A. Times, more than 400 people could die and 800 could be injured if five steel-framed buildings across Southern California collapsed; which could happen if an 8.2 magnitude earthquake were to take place. On March 6, 2018, at 7.:41 PM, an earthquake struck the coastal city with a magnitude of 2.5. Last week, Los Angeles’ mayor, Eric Garcetti, released “Resilient Los Angeles,” the city’s resilience strategy, which calls for better earthquake preparedness. Specifically, he raised the question of whether the city should require the retrofitting of vulnerable steel buildings built before the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
“There are buildings in Los Angeles that have slipped through the cracks. But we can’t let people in an earthquake be killed by those cracks,” Garcetti says. “Sometimes it takes political courage, but we have to make sure we don’t look back after an earthquake and have lives that were lost and say, ‘Well, we did as much as we could.’”
Resilient Los Angeles recommends that the municipality start developing and adopting stronger minimum earthquake building standards for new structures. Other than the vulnerable steel buildings in question, the Resilience Strategy also proposes to develop customized disaster readiness plans for each of Los Angeles’ neighborhood councils. It recommends that the Venice region focus on sea-level rise risks, and that Hollywood Hills make mudslides the priority.
The plan also addresses the administrative side, recommending to expand the mayor’s Office of Resilience and to empower city departments to pick their own resilience officers. The resilience strategy set a deadline of 2028 to create disaster preparedness and response centers in the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. On the environmental side, the document recommends launching projects to provide natural cooling to the neighborhoods, such as planting more trees and painting streets white to reflect heat instead of absorbing it.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 would cause more loss and damage to the Los Angeles area primarily because the San Andreas Fault runs very close to and underneath densely populated areas. “Los Angeles is already leading on seismic safety with the Resilience by Design report…And we’re taking aggressive steps to become a model for sustainability with my Sustainable City plan,” writes the mayor to his fellow “Angelenos” in the newly released resilience strategy. “Resilient Los Angeles builds on those ideas and brings them together into one plan that will guide us toward a more resilient future.”
Californian cities have been working to address resilience ever since two earthquakes shook Mexico City in September of last year. That state of panic started after they did the math and found that Mexico City’s earthquake (placed at 8.2 magnitude) produced four times more energy than the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.8 and killed 3,000 people, besides sparking a fire that left much of the Californian city in ruins.