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California Legislator Fights for More Seismic Retrofitting

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Local Legislator Pushing for More Earthquake Retrofitting
Although California buildings are being retrofitted after recent earthquakes, a local legislator says it is not enough and more needs to be done. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 2019. (Published Friday, Jul 12, 2019 ) Although California buildings are being retrofitted after recent earthquakes, a local legislator says... See More

Although California buildings are being retrofitted after recent earthquakes, a local legislator says it is not enough and more needs to be done. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 2019.

(Published Friday, Jul 12, 2019)

With recent quakes rattling Southern California, thousands of buildings are still being retrofitted to improve how they will withstand the next "Big One." But some say more needs to be done as we look at future construction.

One local leader is working to make big changes to keep buildings up and running after the quake hits.

It comes down to minimizing the time an apartment or condo building, store or other place of business is out of commission. The California Assemblyman behind the proposal says the earthquakes in Ridgecrest a week ago are a wake-up call to look ahead and prepare by beefing up building regulations cranes across Southern California cities and counties expanding it seems minute by minute new construction must follow strict state building codes in case of an earthquake.

"Moving forward we need to come up with standards that don't just save lives but also save buildings," Nazarian said.

Nazarian, who represents part of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley says the current standard is not enough. He is pushing for what's called "functional recovery" in a new bill.

It's the idea of having buildings even if they're devastated in a 7.0 or greater earthquake are able to continue working, he said.

The alternative would be drastic, with millions of dollars in economic losses, he said.

"Small businesses would have to find a new place to operate," he said. "Individuals who are working at these businesses are going to be losing their income as well and what if apartment and condo buildings shut down for weeks or months?

"Especially given the crisis of homelessness, no one is talking about the existing vulnerability of the infrastructure we have in place."

Nazarian's proposal would create a working group to start reviewing building standards and see what changes are needed, changes that could get expensive.

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A recent study from the National Institute for Building Sciences says for every dollar spent to strengthen building codes, four dollars are saved in future costs.

A spokesperson for the California Building Industry Association says it looks forward to working be part of any evolution of seismic standards.

"The reality is we have over 220 fault lines in California," Nazarian said.

As we have been feeling lately, a version of this bill was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

A few tweaks and it has now passed the assembly and being moved through the senate. Another resurrected bill would create an inventory of vulnerable buildings in high seismic risk zones throughout the state.

And there is an additional piece of legislation that would offer tax credits for some of the retrofitting work.