Assemblymember Nazarian Introduces "A Stronger Safer California" —Earthquake Resiliency Legislation

Thursday, March 15, 2018

AB 1857 & AB 2681

AB 1857 & AB 2681 will Save Lives & Protect Property

(Sacramento, CA) Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian introduced "A Stronger Safer California"—Earthquake Resiliency Legislation consisting of two bills, AB 1857: Building Codes and AB 2681: Seismically Vulnerable Mapping.

"We deserve a stronger, safer California that can bounce back quickly after the 'big one' hits, with limited loss of life and property," stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian.  "By proactively strengthening our infrastructure we will save lives and protect property."

AB 1857 – Building Codes

Currently, state law only requires a building to protect the loss of life, but not the loss of property. In the event of a major earthquake, our buildings should withstand the earthquake, but may still be rendered uninhabitable. This would result in a massive loss of housing throughout the earthquake zone, exacerbating our already dire housing shortage in California.

"By investing in stronger building codes now, we reduce or prevent a post-earthquake humanitarian and housing crisis and protect the economy with reduced losses and a quicker resumption of economic activity," stated Dr. Lucy Jones, Seismologist and Founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society.

Analyses of large earthquakes anticipated in Southern California and the Bay Area predict that up to half of buildings built to the current code will suffer enough damage to be flagged as dangerous by local building departments. This represents trillions of dollars of damage, thousands of displaced people from their homes, and a significant disruption to the regional economy.

In addition, a recent study by the International Code Council identified that for every $1 invested in strengthening building codes, we save $4 in repair costs. The National Institute of Building Sciences expanded on this study in their report entitled, Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report. The report stated: "The project team looked at the results of 23 years of federally funded mitigation grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and found mitigation funding can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs, for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation."

"By strengthening our building codes we are proactively preventing catastrophic property damage, economic disruption, and loss of homes," stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. "We are already dealing with a severe housing crisis across California. It's just common sense to make new buildings stronger and safer. Doing so will ensure that we can get back to business as usual after a major earthquake."

AB 2681 – Seismically Vulnerable Buildings Mapping

While some cities have started identifying vulnerable buildings and implemented mandatory retrofits, large swaths of the state have not identified vulnerable buildings.

"Mapping out our seismic vulnerabilities allows local municipalities to be better prepared when an earthquake hits," stated Assemblymember Nazarian.

"This legislation would require cities to identify buildings that could be at significant risk during a major quake, providing valuable information about the potential impacts we face as a state, and spotlighting communities where there is an urgency to address the matter," stated Evan Reis, Executive Director of the US Resiliency Council. "People have a right to make decisions about the buildings in which they live and work based on the best available information. Identifying and evaluating these potentially vulnerable buildings is the first step toward engaging stakeholders about the importance of creating more resilient cities."

This bill would require city and county building departments to create an inventory of potentially seismically vulnerable buildings within their jurisdiction and submit it to the Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). The legislation will:

  • Develop criteria to identify seismically vulnerable building types.
  • Direct building departments to develop an initial list of potentially vulnerable buildings.
  • Notify building owners that they may have potentially vulnerable buildings.
  • Direct noticed owners to verify the vulnerability of the structure.
  • Build and maintain a statewide data repository of potentially vulnerable buildings.
  • Identify possible funding mechanisms to offset administrative costs of building departments to implement the law.

An accurate statewide building vulnerability map is essential as a first step in developing longer term solutions to mitigate the effects of a large-scale earthquake and to protect our economy and limited affordable housing stock.

Adrin Nazarian represents the 46th Assembly District, serving the San Fernando Valley communities of Hollywood Hills, Lake Balboa, North Hills, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Universal City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village.