Seismic building codes for the city of Los Angeles, California: a brief case study

by Kenneth A. Solomon, David Okrent

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Discussion of the decisions facing Los Angeles regarding the safety of pre-1933 structures in the downtown area. It has been estimated that perhaps 10,000 or more mortalities could result from collapse of these buildings due to a large postulated earthquake along the San Andreas or the Newport-Inglewood Fault. Issues to be resolved by the city are: (1) What is the cost of improving these structures to current standards? (2) What is the cost of replacing these structures with new buildings? (3) What is an acceptable level of risk for earthquakes? (4) What risk is acceptable in a new building which meets the current code? (5) To what extent are city officials and/or building owners morrally, ethically or legally liable for permitting continued use of high-risk buildings? (6) What constitutes adequate information to those at risk?

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