LOS ANGELES (AP) – More than 1,000 aging buildings in Los Angeles County could be at risk of falling down during a major earthquake, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper reported Sunday that the structures, some nearly a century old, are scattered across both wealthy and modest neighborhoods and include high-rise office towers, factories and residences.
The buildings, mainly constructed of concrete, are susceptible because they do not contain enough steel reinforcing bars to sustain them during the sideways shaking triggered by a large earthquake.
Los Angeles 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.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office says the mayor, who took office just three months ago, is interested in reviewing the newspaper’s findings.
A team of scientists led by University of California, Berkeley, professor Jack Moehle has compiled a list of about 1,500 older concrete buildings that scientists conclude could be vulnerable.
The team has declined to release the list publicly, however, because of fears of being sued by building owners. Moehle said he would likely give it to city officials if they asked.
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. The reporters then visited the buildings themselves, checked building permits and interviewed 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.
Los Angeles’ 1971 Sylmar earthquake killed 65 people, injured more than 2,000 and toppled two hospitals constructed of concrete, as well as damaged other buildings. The city’s 1994 Northridge earthquake killed 60 people, injured more than 7,000 and flattened 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.