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LA's Signature Dingbat Apartments Very Bad News in a 'Quake

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We should've known it'd be the dingbats that'd get us. LA's signature apartment buildings--the ones with the units overhanging the parking--are tragedies just waiting for the next big earthquake to happen. Come on. Duh. They and other "soft-story" buildings (mostly all apartments and condos) are, with concrete and brick buildings, the most vulnerable in a major earthquake, "because the first story cannot support the weight of the upper stories," according to the LA Times. Now Councilmember Tom LaBonge wants to look into making an inventory so that at the very least we know just how many are lying out there in wait. The inventory would cover "buildings in Los Angeles built before 1978 with at least two stories and at least five units." (San Francisco has already passed a law requiring owners to strengthen soft-stories.)

About 200 soft-story buildings were badly damaged or destroyed in the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 (and many people died), but in 1996 the City Council decided not to require any retrofitting. Meanwhile, the Times talks to a few property owners who don't mind the idea of bringing their buildings up to non-deadly standards, but don't think they should have to be the ones to foot the bill for that kind of amenity.
· L.A. pushed to review quake-vulnerable apartment buildings [LAT]