L.A. makes expensive earthquake retrofitting recommendations

Los Angeles not safe for a major quake 01:45

LOS ANGELES -- A major earthquake is inevitable in Southern California. So today, after a long review, the mayor of Los Angeles proposed the most ambitious safety program in California history.

A yearlong study found the city of Los Angeles has been complacent and is not ready for a massive earthquake.

"When the 'Big One' hits, L.A. as we know it may cease to exist," said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The report's recommendations include mandatory retrofitting -- or strengthening -- of older concrete buildings and soft first story structures, such as apartment buildings with carports and ground floor parking garages.

A study says Los Angeles is not ready for a massive earthquake, so the city is recommending retrofits to buildings whose cost could run into the hundreds of millions. CBS News

Of the roughly 1.1 million structures in Los Angeles, the report estimates that more than 16,000 might require retrofitting. It's a move that could save millions of lives when the next big earthquake hits.

The cost of retrofitting will be the responsibility of building owners and will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Everyone is going to have to pay some , it's the price of L.A.," said Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the city's lead earthquake adviser. "It's not the earthquake per se, it's our infrastructure and our buildings. And they can be built to withstand earthquakes. They haven't been."

Other recommendations include securing the city's water supply with earthquake-resistant pipes and updating communication systems.

The last major earthquake to strike the L.A. area was in 1994. The 6.7 magnitude quake killed 57 people and cost billions. Scientists warn a future quake along the San Andreas fault could be 40 times stronger.

  • Ben Tracy

    Ben Tracy is a CBS News White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C.