Seismic Safety Roundtable and Retrofit Report Release

On October 20th, 2022, for ShakeOut Day, the Dr. Lucy Jones Center hosted a Seismic Safety Roundtable for elected officials and civic leaders. This roundtable featured four experts, Dr. Lucy Jones, Janiele Maffei, Ryan Kersting, and Dr. Keith Porter, who presented solutions to reduce homelessness and protect the lives and property of the most vulnerable after the next earthquake. Representatives from 15 offices in Southern California learned what we can do together to minimize the impact of the next big earthquake. “To be here,” John Bwarie noted, “recognizes the importance your office puts on earthquake safety and preparedness.”


“To be here,” John Bwarie noted, “recognizes the importance your office puts on earthquake safety and preparedness.”

Following the policy changes from the impacts forecasted in the ShakeOut Scenario led by Dr. Jones, Dr. Porter presented on the importance of retrofitting to prevent infrastructure damage, economic damage, and deaths following a major earthquake. California has several seismically dangerous building types, but soft-story buildings are some of the most dangerous. The report shows that Los Angeles’ soft-story retrofit ordinance has led to 8,100 apartment buildings being retrofitted with Earthquake Brace and Bolt, protecting 117,000 housing units. The retrofits cost $1.3 billion, saving $41 billion in possible damages. The benefit cost ratio is therefore $32 for every dollar spent to retrofit soft story buildings. Dr. Keith Porter noted, “not only does mitigation save, it also pays.” The retrofits avoid 28,000 deaths and injuries, and prevent the loss of 65,000 housing units. Mitigation means less disruption to people’s lives. This report only covers the City of Los Angeles but the benefits from the ordinance expand to cities in Los Angeles county and further. Read the full report here.


“Not only does mitigation save, it also pays,” said Dr. Keith Porter

The current building code is focused on life safety, but does not protect against property loss. The more property lost and the more economic impact, the fewer people will want to stay in their communities. The FEMA and NIST report makes the case for why supporting state building codes that raise the bar for mitigation are vital for community resilience.


“It’s become an imperative to get the resilience discussion changed,” emphasized Dr. Lucy Jones

Most emergency response organizations are focused on response, the moments immediately following a disaster, and not on mitigation or long- term recovery and resilience. “It’s become an imperative to get the resilience discussion changed,”  emphasized Dr. Jones. A holistic view incorporating physical science, social science, and emergency management is vital when addressing disasters. Disaster impacts and preparation are interrelated– wildfire mitigation is also earthquake mitigation. When retrofitting your home, this is also the time to replace roofing for fire safety and discuss your disaster plan with family and neighbors.

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