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Study Predicts Thousands Of Mountain View Homes Will Collapse In Major Earthquake

MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX) - Lots of pricey homes in one Mountain View are in danger of collapsing in a major earthquake according to a study at San Jose State University.

The research reveals one in seven homes in in that city could see serious damage.

Resident Bianey Ortega says she's worried about her apartment building if the big one hits the Bay Area.

"You have to hope for the best when a disaster strikes," she said. "When I first moved in and I actually went to the carports and I just looked at them. You see the cracks the enormous cracks that they try to cover with some sealant that you know is not going to be enough."

Ortega's apartment fits the description of what the study calls a 'soft structure.' That's a building likely to collapse or pancake in an earthquake.

Many of them have carports making the first floor vulnerable.

In the city of Mountain View, there are more than 5,000 such soft structures, according to the study.

But city's mayor says there's no need to panic.

"We don't want people to leave their homes because they're in soft story buildings," says Mayor Lenny Siegel. "We didn't panic because all these homes were built before the Loma Prieta quake, so it's not like they're going to fall down immediately, but they need to be strengthened."

City leaders say they're considering making it mandatory for property owners to retrofit buildings but that would mean tenants would see higher rents.

The study estimates it would likely cost between $30,000 and $100,000 dollars to make buildings safer.

"They're raising the rent so high that why wouldn't you take care of the people, you know -- I see that the city has to step in," says resident Noel Angel.

Bianey says although she was concerned her building would likely fail in a tremor she moved in anyway because it's all she could afford.

"Some people are just stuck here, you know, the amount of rent and the minimum wage and stuff -- you're just stuck."

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