- Scientists refuse to pass on details they collected on unsafe buildings
- Non-reinforced concrete structures are a deadly trap during major quakes
- Separate list by LA Times shows Capitol Records building, Pantages Theater, and Avalon nightclub among dangerous buildings
- Scientists confirm 99 percent chance a 6.7 quake will hit within 30 years
- Catastrophic 7.5 magnitude quake has a 46 percent chance of striking
PUBLISHED: 07:42 EST, 21 October 2013 | UPDATED: 07:42 EST, 21 October 2013
Researches are refusing to hand over a list of buildings in Los Angeles which they say are liable to collapse if an earthquake strikes.
Professor Jack Moehle, from UC Berkeley, previously said he would hand the list to city officials without making it public for fear of being sued.
However, a spokesman for the Mayor Eric Garcetti said that when his office requested the list in order to make a head-start on tackling the problem, they were told they couldn’t have it.
Last weekend scientists warned that a 6.7 magnitude earthquake is almost certain to happen on the West Coast in the next 30 years and if it does 1,500 ageing buildings in LA could turn into death traps.
The research team, lead by engineering professor Moehle, looked at public records and did a walking survey in order to establish which properties were at risk.
The team found modest homes, millionaire high rises, and factories with outdated concrete constructions that had slipped through the cracks of city ordinances.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the buildings are susceptible because they do not contain enough steel reinforcing bars to sustain them during the sideways shaking triggered by a large quake.
Neither Professor Jack Mohele, who lead the study, nor any of his team responded to requests for comment by the Times.
LA officials have known about the dangers for more than 40 years but have failed to force owners to make their properties safer or to compile a list of endangered buildings, according to the Times.
The Times compiled its own list using many of the same methods the scientists did. The newspaper had a team of reporters research thousands of city and county records to identify older buildings.
Awaiting disaster? The iconic Capitol Records building (left) was identified by the LA Times as one of 1,000 outdated structures in danger of collapse in the next big Southern California earthquake, as was Hollyood’s Guaranty building, now home to the Church of Scientology
The reporters visited the buildings themselves, checked building permits and interviewing owners to see what if any quake-safety upgrades had been made over the years.
The analysis concluded that more than 1,000 structures are at risk, with more than 50 in Los Angeles likely to fall down, putting thousands of people at risk.
Many of these at-risk buildings include landmarks and buildings frequented by many of LA’s 40 million visitors per year—such as the Capitol Records building, Pantages Theater, the Hollywood Guaranty building, home to the Church of Scientology, and the Avalon Hollywood nightclub.
Many of the at-risk buildings were found to be in the Hollywood area, which is bisected by a fault capable of rocking the area with a direct 7.0 earthquake.
LA’s downtown area, full of outdated textile factories, is also at risk. This includes Scott Kim’s family business, which his family paid $5 million for 10 years ago.
‘It went through other earthquakes, and it’s still here,’ Kim told the Times. ‘I know back in the day they built buildings much sturdier than buildings today.’
However, Kim admits that no one walked him and his family through the seismic risks when they bought the place.
Two earthquakes, Sylmar in 1971 and Northridge in 1994, killed 125 people, injured more than 9,000 and toppled two hospitals, an apartment building and several freeway overpasses, including one that was rebuilt after falling during the 1971 quake.
More than 40,000 buildings were damaged across Southern California.
A 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan killed 6,000 and many were in concrete buildings.
Another 133 people died in a 2011 New Zealand quake after two non-reinforced concrete office buildings were toppled.
A 2008 forecast gave 99 percent chance of a 6.7 magnitude quake in the next three decades, and 46 percent chance of a 7.5 or greater, with Southern California at the epicenter.
Researchers like Thomas Heaton of Caltech’s Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory worry it will take a deadly tragedy to create change.
‘We know darn well that if a bunch of people die, there will be lots of stories, lots of reports, things will change,’ Heaton said. ‘But the question is, do we have to have lots of people die in order to make this change?’
QUICK, EASY, AND DEADLY – LA’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH CONCRETE BUILDINGS
The City of Angels saw a massive population influx in the 1920s and a huge rush to build homes and business to accommodate the new Angelenos.
The era saw a concrete structures spring up en-masse, helping to pave the way toward the sprawling Los Angeles seen today.
In the 1970s, concrete towers began to line LA’s famous avenues, like the historic Capitol Records building.
In 1971, the 6.6 Sylmar earthquake killed 52 people after the concrete structures failed to withstnd the tremor.
On such building was the 3-storey San Fernando Valley VA Hospital which collapsed, crushing patients in their beds.
The magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake in 1994 saw even more concrete structures destroyed.
As a result of the two disasters the city tightened regulations for new buildings and began retrofitting older sites with steel beams.
However, attempts to force building owners to update their properties have largely been a failure.
The work is costly and owners are either unwilling or unable to foot the bill.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2470108/Scientists-REFUSE-release-list-1-500-outdated-Los-Angeles-homes-offices-factories-risk-collapse-earthquake.html#ixzz2iNHE33Hu Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
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