Hertzberg Announces Major Legislation to Prepare Californians for the Next “Big One”
Bill will free up funding for incentives for retrofitting across the state
SACRAMENTO – Today, on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake that took place in January 1994, Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) announced legislation that will allocate $1 billion in funding over the next 10 years to retrofit homes across California.
Twenty five years ago, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck the San Fernando Valley. Approximately 10-20 seconds of shaking caused widespread devastation throughout the Valley and the greater Los Angeles region. It left almost 60 dead, and nearly 9,000 injured.
Further, the Northridge Earthquake exposed a weakness among older homes. More than 60,000 single-family houses, apartments and mobile homes were destroyed or rendered temporarily unlivable. The earthquake caused $20 billion in household damage and left 22,000 people homeless.
In response to the Northridge Earthquake, the legislature created the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) in 1996 to better prepare Californians against such damage. Since their Brace & Bolt program launched in 2014, the CEA has been able to retrofit over 4,000 homes in Los Angeles County alone. But the need is far greater.
The chance that California will experience a 6.7 or larger earthquake again in the next 30 years is 99 percent. And it is estimated that 250,000 people in Southern California could be forced out of their homes after a major earthquake on the San Andreas fault because of weaknesses in their homes. It’s not limited to Los Angeles: as many as 1.2 million older houses in California’s hazard areas are vulnerable to damage.
Hertzberg’s legislation, which will be formally introduced later this month, restructures the CEA’s finances to free up dollars that will be used to fund retrofits of homes – shifting their resources to focus on preventive action to lessen the impact of the next “Big One.”
“For more than a million California houses, a code-compliant retrofit could cost just a few thousand dollars,” said Senator Hertzberg. “And it could prevent a family from losing everything. It could be the difference between life and death.”
“While we don’t know exactly when the next damaging earthquake will hit California, we know that if we take bold steps now to strengthen older homes in areas of high seismic risk, our communities will be better able to survive after the Big One strikes,” added Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority. “We applaud Senator Hertzberg’s vision and leadership, and look forward to working with all members of the legislature on this urgently important issue.”
At a press conference last week commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, Dr. Lucy Jones, a widely regarded expert in the field of seismology, warned of the danger Californians face in not preparing: “The earthquake is inevitable, but the disaster is not.”
Senator Hertzberg concluded, “Each dollar spent today will save thousands of dollars tomorrow. We have to get ahead of the game.”
Please contact Katie Hanzlik at Katie.Hanzlik@sen.ca.gov to be notified when a bill number is available.
Click here to watch Senator Hertzberg, Glenn Pomeroy, Dr. Lucy Jones, and a number of San Fernando Valley elected officials emphasize their commitment to earthquake preparedness at last week’s #Northridge25 press conference.
Media Contact: Katie Hanzlik
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 313