LaBonge, Parks call for seismic study of concrete buildings

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Council members Tom LaBonge and Bernard Parks submitted separate motions Tuesday calling on the city to review and make reports on the earthquake safety of the city’s older concrete buildings.

The motions follow a Times report on concrete buildings that were built before 1976. By the most conservative estimate, as many as 50 of the more than 1,000 old concrete buildings in the city would collapse in a major earthquake, exposing thousands to injury or death.

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LaBonge’s motion asks for the city’s Department of Building and Safety to take the “first step” and report on possible ways to conduct “a comprehensive survey of non-ductile concrete buildings (built prior to 1976) in Los Angeles which have not been seismically retrofitted, including recommendations for methods of retrofitting and related costs.”

DOCUMENT: Read Councilman LaBonge’s motionjavascript:mctmp(0);

“All I know is this: We’re going to have another earthquake,” LaBonge told The Times this week. “We must prepare, and we must understand the situation and make sure we’re not at fault for not preparing.”

In a separate proposal, Parks asked the Board of Public Works to collaborate with the city attorney to gather data on older concrete buildings that need retrofitting and “identify via city records the accuracy of such data.”

DOCUMENT: Read Councilman Parks’ motion

His motion asks that the report include recommendations and ordinances to address safety and liability issues.


“The city needs to review the status of our concrete buildings and implement a comprehensive solution,” Parks said in the motion.

Concrete buildings may look strong, but many older concrete buildings are vulnerable to the sideways movement of a major earthquake because they don’t have enough steel reinforcement to hold columns in place. Los Angeles officials have known about the dangers for more than 40 years but have not forced owners to make their properties safer.

The motions will be discussed by a City Council planning committee.