What About Our Kids? Posted by Lee Kanon Alpert on Mar 24 2016



Those of us who are blessed to live in this wonderful State of California with its great weather and opportunities are unfortunately forced to live with the danger and deaths caused by unpredictable earthquakes.


Over the years, the Los Angeles City Department of Building and Safety has substantially increased their building requirements to protect us in the event of a quake. Most recently, the Mayor and the City Council developed and approved a plan to facilitate and mandate the retrofit of a substantial amount of residential buildings to protect its occupants and/or renters who in turn will, to varying degrees, share in the cost of retrofitting. The City, its Mayor, the City Council under the leadership of Herb Wesson and the Department of Building and Safety have rightly put lives before costs in seeking to significantly and fairly enable these safety measures to be put in place, before the next big one hits.


As you will recall some decades ago (and time does fly), as a result of the Northridge earthquake and others, our legislature found the harm from earthquakes to be a sufficient threat to mandate earthquake retrofitting requirements on hospitals in the State, with those hospitals bearing all of the costs. The results were that many community hospitals either closed their doors or were swallowed up by larger hospital groups that could afford to finance the retrofitting requirements. Today, this retrofitting continues and is an ongoing project in many facilities throughout our State.


A key issue that has always perplexed me, is that while of course personal residences, businesses including hospitals are required and need to comply with this law, what about our schools? Have we done enough or anything for that matter, to ensure that our schools, where our children spend a significant, if not the majority of their time in session five days a week for a good portion of the year, are safe should a strong tremor hit?


Many schools in local school districts are very aged and yet it appears that standards such as those mandated for hospitals to protect patients, have not been mandated for schools to protect the our children, the students, and teachers, who likely far outnumber patients in hospitals.


As of 2014, it was reported that more than 600 Los Angeles public school buildings need earthquake retrofits or evaluations, but it is unclear what has become of this.  Furthermore, what if anything is required of Los Angeles private schools? In 2014, the City of San Francisco enacted a law mandating the seismic evaluation of private school buildings.  What are we waiting for in Los Angeles? Could it be that we mandate action where private parties or businesses have to pay, but not our state or government? If so, at what cost are we doing so… now and for our future?


All lives are equally important, but especially those of our younger generations who we look to as our future.


Just a thought.