What happens to Los Angeles when we survive the Big One but our buildings don't?

In an effort to prevent catastrophic property damage, California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood) has introduced a bill directing the California Building Standards Commission to strengthen the building codes governing the construction of larger apartment and office buildings and some commercial buildings. Instead of being designed just to preserve the lives of their occupants, AB 1857 would require all new "engineered" buildings to be sturdy enough to function — perhaps with some minor repair — and be reoccupied quickly after a major earthquake. That means making them about 50% stronger than current standards. The new standard would apply to schools, hospitals and other public buildings only if it is more stringent than their current codes.

The proposal is one of two Nazarian bills aimed at earthquake resiliency. The other, AB 2681, would require all cities to compile a list of seismically vulnerable buildings, although it would not mandate any retrofitting.