AirTalk for April 23, 2013

Should LA building owners be required to retrofit buildings to better withstand earthquakes?

New Report Finds That S.F. Infrastructure Unprepared For Major Earthquake

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The famous row of homes known as the "Painted Ladies" are seen from Alamo Square Park in San Francisco, California. Many San Francisco homes are unprepared for earthquakes and will need to be retrofitted at high cost to owners.

San Francisco passed a sweeping law on Thursday that will require building owners to upgrade any properties that have the kind of structures mostly likely to be damaged in an earthquake -- so-called "wood-frame soft-story" buildings.

The upgrades can cost upwards of $100,000 per building and some Los Angeles property owners are firmly opposed to that kind of law being enacted here. But San Francisco lawmakers successfully argued that requiring these upgrades was in the public interest. So far, only two other cities require property owners to pay for this type of earthquake retrofitting, Santa Monica and the Bay-Area suburb of Fremont.

Does public safety override property owners' concerns about cost? Is it practical to have this requirement in a city like Los Angeles with such a high rate of low-income housing? Who would be responsible if a building owner couldn't pay?

Guests:
Dan Faller, president and chief executive of the LA-based Apartment Owners Assn. of California

Mitchell Englander, LA City Council member who represents District 12 in the North West San Fernando Valley


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