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LA Finally Taking Major Steps to Prepare For the Big One

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Just in time for today's statewide earthquake preparedness event, Los Angeles's earthquake "czar" Lucy Jones is making some strong arguments for getting ready. In a press conference yesterday, Jones outlined some of the catastrophic effects a strong 'quake (say, a 7.8) would have on the city and the results aren't pretty, says the Daily News: water shortages that might last up to a month, overall destruction economically worse than Hurricane Katrina, and one in 16 buildings across the Southland damaged.

That LA's water would be in danger is not a big surprise. "We all saw what happened on Sunset Boulevard," Jones said, referring to the giant pipe ruptures near UCLA in July and on the Sunset Strip in September. "Imagine 300 of those on the same day." In some situations, Angelenos could be without water for a month.

Some of the most vulnerable buildings in the event of an earthquake are "soft-story" buildings, aka dingbats, mostly built pre-1978 with wood frames and parking underneath a second story. Many of these dingbats are also affordable housing, Jones warns, and it's possible that if LA doesn't prep before the Big One, it "will have lost our affordable housing supply." (LA doesn't have any affordable housing to spare; it's short by several thousands already.)

Thankfully, Jones is helping LA to prepare for such a disaster. The city's been hard at work building a list of soft-story buildings, sending officials to do on-site inspections of the nearly 30,000 structures that might be at risk. Once they're finished, the city will have a list of what might be in danger of collapse—a huge advantage in the effort to get the buildings (and all of LA) earthquake-ready. (We still have to deal with our old concrete buildings, though.) KPCC reports that the city should have that list by January, and the LA Times reports that the Department of Building and Safety plans to recommend mandatory retrofits for unsafe dingbats.
· Los Angeles' earthquake 'czar' Dr. Lucy Jones outlines doomsday scenarios [LADN]
· LA About to Comb Through 12k Buildings For 'Quake Threat [Curbed LA]
· Four Terrifying Scenarios to Expect After the Big One Hits [Curbed LA]
· 10 Terrifying Lessons From the LA Seismologist's Reddit AMA [Curbed LA]