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Re: Housing Performance Objectives

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Fred, thank you. I need to learn from you once again. You seem to be able to
say exactly what I mean in far fewer words. You hit the mark that I labored
with in my response to Frank Lew. It is not a life safety issue any longer -
it's ecconomical and personal.

-----Original Message-----
From: FredT5(--nospam--at) <FredT5(--nospam--at)>
To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Tuesday, December 02, 1997 10:37 AM
Subject: Housing Performance Objectives

>Tim McCormick said: Its cheaper for society to build residential
>structures that maintain occupancy than pay for all of the assistance
>later to help even 5% of them.
>Tim touches on a problem with our codes: failure to provide consistent
>seismic performance objectives. I won't try to speak for Frank Lew, but
>building officials regard the minimum seismic performance objective to be
>life safety only. So as long as a damaged building hasn't killed anyone
>if its a total economic loss and unoccupiable it meets their interpretation
>of the code's intent. So one camp focuses on the "life or limb" clause in
>Section 101.2 of the UBC to the exclusion of other clauses. Historically
>has been the primary focus, but arguably many other code provisions go far
>beyond life safety.
>Tim appears to be in the other camp that focuses on the "health, property,
>and public welfare" clause in Section 101.2. But more importantly, Tim
>appears to further clarify his interpretation of the code's intent and
>advocates "maintain(ing) occupancy" in dwellings after disasters. The
>Life/Limb Camp responds to the Property Protection Camp that the role of
>government is limited to ensuring life safety, not the quality of life.
>In effect, the UBC states both objectives, so both camps are satisfied
>Policymakers in California are are generally not aware of this debate.
>few that are aware of it are reluctant to address this issue for several
>1) unwillingness to face the possibility and the inevitable responsibility
>that parts of the code may no longer meet the public's expectations,
>2) loss of competitiveness in high-risk disaster-prone areas if design and
>construction costs are increased,
>3) the status quo doesn't appear to need fixing so why rock it;
>4) earthquakes are a long-term problem and typical political time-frames
>less than two years;
>5) others (i.e. SEAOC and ICC) are responsible for the codes so its their
>issue, not nontechnical policymakers.
>6) the insurance crisis in California has reportedly been solved by the
>creation of the California Earthquake Authority.
>7) Northridge was a big quake and we recovered from it well,
>8) FEMA will bail us out after a big one.
>Only major changes in the status quo will cause policymakers to rethink
>issue now. The least that engineers can do is make an effort to counter the
>myths in numbers 5 through 8 above. Its curious how engineers spend so much
>time worrying about such small increments in total cost that have such
>implications without the benefit of knowing what their clients really want.
>For the time being, both Frank and Tim have valid concerns because we
>heard the general public's viewpoint.
>Lets hear your comments and suggested ways to address this issue.
>Fred Turner