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California

Quake retrofit grants expanding to more California single-family homes

A home in Napa after suffering earthquake damage.

A home in Napa after suffering earthquake damage.

(Evan Wagstaff / Los Angeles Times)

State funding next year will allow 1,000 owners to receive grants of up to $3,000 to retrofit homes with a common earthquake flaw.

Homes in select ZIP codes of Los Angeles, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and San Bernardino will be eligible. In Northern California, certain ZIP codes of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, San Leandro, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Millbrae, and Woodside are also included in the retrofit program.  

Single-family homes that qualify for the grant are typically built before 1979 with a handful of steps above the ground. The heavy house can rest atop a flimsy wood-frame perimeter that isn’t bolted to the foundation – when a quake hits, the house can topple or slide off. Engineers say it’s like pulling the rug out from under the house.

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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 last year’s 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. 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.

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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The $3 million in state funding allows officials to expand the grant program to homes in more than 150 ZIP codes in quake vulnerable areas of California.  The grants are income-tax exempt at the state level, officials said.

Expanding the program, known as Earthquake Brace + Bolt, “is an important step forward in preparing California for a large earthquake,” said Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks), who sought additional funding for the program. “Bracing and bolting homes to their foundation can help protect property and save lives.”

The budget, approved by Gov. Jerry Brown, helps expand this retrofit program administered by the California Residential Mitigation Program, which has so far made the grant available in about two dozen ZIP Codes.

Applications can be submitted in January at earthquakebracebolt.com. Homes in the following ZIP codes will now be eligible for the program:

Los Angeles (90004, 90005, 90006, 90012, 90013, 90014, 90015, 90017, 90019, 90020, 90021, 90023, 90026, 90027, 90028, 90029, 90030, 90031, 90032, 90033, 90036, 90038, 90039, 90041, 90042, 90057, 90063, 90065, 90068, 90071, 91604)

Pasadena (91101, 91102, 91103, 91104, 91105, 91106, 91107, 91108, 91110, 91114, 91115, 91116, 91117, 91118, 91121, 91123, 91124, 91125, 91129, 91131, 91175, 91182, 91184, 91185, 91186, 91187, 91188, 91189, 91191)

South Pasadena (91030, 91031)

Santa Monica (90401, 90402, 90403, 90404, 90405, 90406, 90407, 90408, 90409, 90410, 90411)

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West Hollywood (90046, 90048, 90069)

San Bernardino (92404, 92405)

Albany (94706)

Berkeley (94609, 94618, 94702, 94703, 94704, 94705, 94707, 94708, 94709, 94710, 94720)

Burlingame (94010, 94011, 94012)

Emeryville (94608)

Hillsborough (94010)

Millbrae (94030, 94031)

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Oakland (94601, 94602, 94603, 94605, 94606, 94607, 94610, 94611, 94612, 94613, 94618, 94619, 94621)

San Francisco (94101, 94102, 94103, 94104, 94105, 94106, 94107, 94108, 94109, 94110, 94111, 94112, 94114, 94115, 94116, 94117, 94118, 94119, 94120, 94121, 94122, 94123, 94124, 94125, 94126, 94127, 94128, 94129, 94130, 94131, 94132, 94133, 94134, 94135, 94136, 94137, 94138, 94139, 94140, 94141, 94142, 94143, 94144, 94145, 94146, 94147, 94148, 94149, 94150, 94151, 94152, 94153, 94154, 94155, 94156, 94157, 94158)

San Leandro (94577, 94578, 94579)

Woodside (94061, 94062)

Follow us for the latest news in earthquake safety, El Nino, and the drought@RosannaXia and @ronlin

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