Today is the last day to sign up for expanded single-family quake retrofit program

A house in Fillmore sits askew six months after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, having slid off its foundation.
(Joe Pugliese / Los Angeles Times)

Monday is the last day to sign up for a newly expanded program providing grants of up to $3,000 to earthquake retrofit single-family homes.

Registration ends Monday and is run by a program that receives money from the state and the nonprofit California Earthquake Authority. Homeowners can register at

Officials expect to provide grants for 2,000 retrofits, up from 1,600 last year. There is $6 million in funding for the program this year, up from $4.8 million last year.


In Southern California, areas now available to request grants include certain ZIP codes in Altadena, Alhambra, Claremont, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Redlands, San Bernardino, San Marino, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, South Pasadena and West Hollywood.

In Northern California, areas now include certain ZIP codes in Albany, Berkeley, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Eureka, Hayward, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Oakland, Piedmont, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Francisco, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, San Mateo, Watsonville and Woodside.

Single-family homes that qualify for the grant are typically built before 1979 and are not bolted to their foundation. When a quake occurs, the house can topple or slide off. Engineers say it’s like pulling the rug out from under the house.

These types of homes have been damaged in earthquakes as early as the 1906 San Francisco quake, as well as in the 1933 Long Beach, 1971 Sylmar, 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge quakes, and the 2014 Napa earthquake.

To reattach an intact house to its foundation, an owner might have to pay to lift the entire structure several feet and pour a new concrete foundation, then lower the house, at a cost as high as $400,000.

By contrast, the cost of a preventive retrofit is usually between $2,000 and $10,000, with an average price tag of $5,000, according to the California Residential Mitigation Program, which administers the grants. The solution is generally simple: Add metal rods to attach the wooden house to the concrete foundation, and plywood to add stiffness and strength to keep the house on its foundation.

There are more than 1.2 million houses in California estimated to be particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because of how they were constructed.

Experts liken unretrofitted single family homes with this structural flaw to driving a car without seat belts.

City governments have not required homeowners to make seismic retrofits to single-family homes. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Los Angeles city building officials briefly considered requiring 50,000 single-family homes to be retrofitted, but the idea was rejected.



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