LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — On the anniversary of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was promoting his new plan for quake preparedness. But he's learning it may be a tough sell.
The 6.7-Magnitude temblor hit the Southland at 4:31 a.m., toppling freeways and buildings, killing dozens of people and causing nearly $50 billion in property damage.
The devastation took years to remedy.
U.S. Geological Survey spokesperson Lucy Jones says that's nothing in comparison to the Big One, the dreaded mega-quake that seismologists predict is long overdue to hit California along the San Andreas Fault.
"The reality is we have not had a big earthquake in Southern California since 1857," Jones said to L.A. City Council last week.
She urged local leaders to start planning ahead. Jones has worked with Garcetti's staff for the past year to develop the "Resilience By Design" plan that would hopefully save lives when the Big One hits.
"But we're also trying to protect our economy," she said, so "that we don't have that catastrophic collapse in our economy that leads to decades of depression."
The mayor hopes to get the City Council's approval within the next six months on a plan to retrofit thousands of buildings in L.A. so they meet current quake-safety standards.
Under the 123-page Resilience by Design plan (PDF), two types of vulnerable buildings citywide would be required to be retrofitted within as little as five years for "soft-first-story" buildings – which are commonly wood frame apartment complexes and other structures – built prior to 1980.
Retrofits would also be required within 25 years at "non-ductile reinforced concrete" buildings such as apartment complexes, schools, hospitals, office buildings, and warehouses that were built before 1980.
Many of the city's 1,400 non-ductile reinforced concrete buildings could be at risk for collapse in future earthquakes, according to the 123-page report.
It was unclear how much the retrofitting would cost.
Property owners are worried they'll get saddled with the bill.
Garcetti said, "We won't ask anybody to do something that'll make people lose their properties or get kicked out of their apartments."
The mayor is hoping to get tenants to pick up the tab: "We're talking about $75 or 10 percent of your rent, whatever's less."
"I don't think it's right. I don't think that anyone should be raised that 10 percent or $75," said Kristen Cunningham, a resident at a Northridge apartment complex.
The mayor's plan also calls for boosting the local water supply and making sure telecommunications stay open after a disaster.
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