The Safe & Sound Act’s First Bill Passes Key Assembly Committee

Thursday, April 4, 2019

(Sacramento, CA) AB 429, the Earthquake Inventory Act, passed the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee 20 – 0.

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

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

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.
  • Build and maintain a statewide data repository of potentially vulnerable buildings.

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.

The Safe & Sound Act Bills are:

30% Seismic Retrofit Tax Incentive | AB 234

Legislation will establish a five-year 30% tax credit for qualified costs associated with a seismic retrofit for qualified owners of an “at-risk property.” The tax credit is awarded upon completion of seismic retrofit.

Other key components:

  • Authorizes the Franchise Tax Board to administer the credit on a first-come, first served basis, through a process of local certification.
  • Provides that a municipality’s local agency with jurisdiction for building code and safety enforcement certify an “at-risk building” located within their area.
  • Defines an “at-risk property” as a building that is deemed hazardous and in danger of collapse in the event of a major earthquake including but not limited to, soft-story buildings, non-ductile concrete residential buildings, and pre-1980 concrete residential buildings.
  • Provides what type of seismic retrofit construction qualifies under the credit to mitigate seismic damage.

The tax credit can be applied to personal income tax or corporate taxes. Money is not directly taken out of the general fund. It is, however, a realized loss from future general fund revenue the state would have acquired absent this program. As an example, for every $100 spent on seismic retrofit, there will be $30 in future revenue loss to the state under this program for eligible recipients.

Strengthening Building Codes | AB 393

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 could be rendered uninhabitable. This would result in a massive loss of housing throughout the earthquake zone, exacerbating our already dire housing shortage in California.

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, displacement of people from their homes, and significant disruption to the regional economy.

“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 Southern California. It’s just common sense to make new buildings safer and stronger. Doing so will ensure that we can get back to business as usual after a major earthquake.”

Early Warning Phone Alert System | AB 511

AB 511 will require any mobile telephone device sold in California to incorporate Early Earthquake Warning (EEW) technology to function as part of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system by December 1, 2020. The same would apply to any mobile service provider in California.

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.