SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California lawmakers are considering a bill that would develop a new tool to keep us earthquake-safe.
Supporters say it’ll help Californians know whether their buildings may still be standing when a major earthquake strikes, but critics say the legislation is structurally flawed.
If the big one hits tomorrow, Kit Miyamoto says thousands of California buildings would collapse, like they did during Mexico’s magnitude-7.2 quake earlier this year.
He would know.
Miyamoto is the president of an international seismic engineering company and the Governor-appointed state seismic safety commissioner.
He says, more than two decades after the catastrophic Northridge quake, California’s new plan to mitigate earthquake risk still doesn’t get it quite right.
“I think because the money’s not there, first of all. Second of all, it creates a state bureaucracy, it’s not a solution,” he said.
The bill moving through the legislature would require cities and counties across the state to develop an inventory of potentially unsafe buildings, public and private, built before 1995. But critics say creating that database could cost millions of dollars.
“A solution is city and county—that level they need to do it, just like LA and San Francisco,” he said.
Under the proposed bill, building owners would need to hire an engineer to evaluate the building’s potential hazards.
However, Miyamoto says San Francisco already assesses wood frame apartments with flimsy ground floors. And Los Angeles has an inventory of brittle concrete buildings.
“The big difference is it has grassroots support whereas having someone from above telling you what to do with a lot of money associated with it,” he said.
The bill author says it’ll be worth it. Los Angeles Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian says, in part, “when the ground starts shaking, you can either pray your building is safe or know your building is seismically safe.”
A shaky plan? Or an effort to protect California communities? Both sides can agree, it’s a start
And the state still has to come up with enough money before the legislature approves the bill.
If the governor signs off, the state would call on building departments to create that inventory by 2020.
And the California department of emergency services would keep that information for the public to view.