Earthquakes: LA wants list of potentially dangerous building

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An aerial view of Los Angeles. According to an LA Times analysis, more than 1,000 aging buildings in LA County could be at risk of falling in a major earthquake.

Amid growing debate over the safety of older concrete buildings in Los Angeles, the city formally requested from UC Berkeley earthquake researchers a list of potentially unsafe buildings in LA Thursday. For six years, researchers have been looking at how such structures might fare in a major earthquake.

The city’s letter acknowledges the researchers’ list is incomplete and doesn’t evaluate the seismic safety of specific buildings.

“Although the 1,500 older reinforced concrete structure database used in the study may not be a complete list of this building type, nor does this list reflect the structural integrity of specific buildings, the information may be useful to our department,” said Department of Building and Safety Interim General Manager Raymond Chan.

Mayor Eric Garcetti instructed Chan to write the letter, according to Garcetti’s spokesman Yuseff Robb.

“Our ultimate goal is to make LA safer,” he said.

Robb said Garcetti first learned of the existence of the list in a Los Angeles Time article.

LA city lawmakers are under pressure to address the issue of unsafe concrete buildings following a Times report that more than 1,000 may exist in the city.  Hundreds of people could die if the buildings were to collapse in a major earthquake.

In a statement released last week, UC Berkeley expressed concerns that releasing the list without a clear description of the scientific context “could cause undue and unnecessary harm,” but did not rule out handing over the data.

“The university is prepared to discuss use of the inventory for purposes other than the scientific purpose for which it was created.”

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