West Hollywood Seismic Retrofit

Faced with dozens of letters in opposition and a crowd carrying signs saying “voluntary,” the West Hollywood City Council last night quickly yielded to owners of condominiums who demanded it not require them to protect their buildings against earthquakes.

The letters, many of them from owners of units in the celebrity-famous Sierra Towers on Doheny, cited the high cost to them of preparing their building for safety before the next, and inevitable, earthquake.

The residents argued that their buildings had suffered little or no damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake and that the decision to protect themselves from further danger should be “voluntary,” thus the slogan on their signs.

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Source:  Wehoville

Earthquake Early Warning System Funding Possibly Pulled by Trump

Experts can’t predict earthquakes, but they can warn you that they’re coming. For a dozen years, West Coast scientists working with the United States Geological Survey have been developing an earthquake early warning system — called ShakeAlert — that could provide anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of warning not only about the shaking that’s imminent but also about its intensity.

That’s enough time to stop a train in its tracks, let an elevator open at the nearest floor or warn your dentist to pull the drill out of your mouth. But just as a pilot program for the system is ramping up, President Trump’s budget would eliminate $10 million in federal funding for it and end the U.S. Geological Survey’s involvement in it. That would be a colossal mistake. Pulling federal money and federal scientific support would not just slow the ShakeAlert project, it would likely kill it altogether.

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Source: LA Times

California Mega Quakes and San Andreas Fault

As Interstate 10 snakes through the mountains and toward the golf courses, housing tracts and resorts of the Coachella Valley, it crosses the dusty slopes of the San Gorgonio Pass.

The pass is best known for the spinning wind turbines that line it. But for geologists, the narrow desert canyon is something of a canary in the coal mine for what they expect will be a major earthquake coming from the San Andreas fault.

The pass sits at a key geological point, separating the low desert from the Inland Empire, and, beyond that, the Los Angeles Basin.

Through it runs an essential aqueduct that feeds Southern California water from the Colorado River as well as vital transportation links. It’s also the path for crucial power transmission lines.

California earthquake experts believe what happens at the San Gorgonio Pass during a major rupture of the San Andreas fault could have wide-ranging implications for the region and beyond.

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Source:  LA Times

Los Angeles Seismic Retrofit Earthquake Safety

Eighteen months after Los Angeles passed the nation’s most sweeping seismic retrofit law, more than 15% of the city’s earthquake-vulnerable wood apartment buildings have begun the process of retrofits.

More than 2,100 buildings have either been retrofitted or are in the process of being strengthened out of about 13,500 that have been identified, city officials said. And that’s six years before the first buildings must be retrofitted under the law.

“We know that this work will save lives,” Garcetti told a gathering of scientists and community leaders who gathered at the mayor’s residence to talk about seismic safety. “We are two years ahead of any other big city in America on the work that we’ve done.”

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Source: LA Times

Early Earthquake Warning System Grows

While the future of the West Coast’s earthquake early warning system is in peril from President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, the network is beginning to slowly gain traction in both small and big ways.

A scattering of buildings are now equipped with audible alarms that will give occupants an advance warning ranging from seconds to more than a minute before the shaking from a major earthquake begins.

There are even buildings wired to prevent people from being trapped in elevators after an earthquake. The system is set up to trigger elevators to stop at the nearest floor for occupants to escape as an announcement is simultaneously broadcast: “Earthquake! Earthquake! Earthquake! Drop, cover and hold on!”

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Source:  LA Times

Get Your Seismic Retrofit Before The Big One

Fear of earthquakes is part of life in California.

But people experience this anxiety in different ways. For some, the fear prompts them to take steps to protect themselves: strapping down heavy furniture, securing kitchen cabinets and retrofitting homes and apartments.

For others, the fear prompts denial — a willful ignorance of the dangers until the ground starts shaking.

Seismologist Lucy Jones has spent her career trying to understand public attitudes about earthquakes, with a focus on moving people past paralysis and denial.

Jones said the way experts like her used to talk about earthquakes wasn’t very effective. They tended to focus on the probability of a major earthquake striking in the next 30 years — the length of a typical home mortgage. They also took pains to say what they didn’t know, which she now believes allowed the public to tune out and hope for the best.

Now she is making a dramatically different point, emphasizing that a devastating earthquake will definitely happen, and that there is much the public can do to protect themselves.

Also, Jones said she learned to tell property owners they would have to pay for how their building fares in an earthquake — either as a retrofit or by picking up the pieces after the building collapses.

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Source: LA Times