Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Historic preservation Tuesday: historic preservation and earthquakes

Earthquake protection is one of the factors that influences the ability to rehab historic properties on the West Coast more so than on the East Coast, and this can drive up significantly the cost of rehab and makes large properties particularly difficult to protect.

However, the East Coast isn't immune to the effect of earthquakes as people in the Washington, DC area may remember, when a 2011 earthquake in Virginia ended up damaging many monumental buildings and structures in DC including the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral ("Earthquake Aftermath: National Landmarks Damaged." ABC News).  Stone buildings are more vulnerable to ground shaking.

House in Fillmore sits askew six months after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, having slid off its foundation. (Joe Pugliese / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Times has a nice article, "Retrofitting pre-1979 homes can prevent much costlier quake damage," focused on single family houses.

The article points out that larger buildings draw most of the attention, that houses are equally vulnerable although the potential for loss of life is less compared to the big buildings, but the cost to add protections isn't particularly high, from $2,000 to $10,000 per property.  

Homeowners in many places in California are eligible for grants to help pay for the cost of earthquake hardening.

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