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Re: Repair Standards before the next one...

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Fred and Bob,

Your evaluations of the situtation are very insightful.  I guess I lean
toward option number 3.  The basic premise of emergency management is that
control remains at the lowest level of government.  In this case, that is
the local building department.

All OES can do is encourage jurisdictions to take a serious look at
developing repair standards.  I'm not sure that adopting a standard at the
State level and forcing local government to adopt and use the same standard
is the right approach.  Hopefully, the standard which Dr. Sassi and I
developed can be the beginning point.  Another consideration is that State
agencies such as DSA and OSHPD need to have repair standards as well.

To some degree DSA was successful with the schools (after Northridge) in
using criteria they had developed.  However, it was quite a fight with FEMA
to get them to even look at the criteria.  OSHPD was not as successful.
OSHPD had to pass an emergency code change through the Building Standards
Commission to even get FEMA to look at hosptials seriously.  That action,
along with others, led to FEMA's development of a special program for
hospitals which bennefitted those structures tremendously.

Bob, In your response you talked about the State share on these projects.
OES has developed a policy that the applicant (local government) is only
eligible for the State's share of work deemed eligible by FEMA.  However,
OES recognizes the need for appropriate and proper repair of damaged

As a side note, this concept of repair standards does not deal only with
buildings!  All infrastructure needs to have standards as well.

 image moved   FredT5(--nospam--at)                                     
 to file:      03/21/98 07:19 PM                                  

Please respond to seaoc(--nospam--at)

To:   seaoc(--nospam--at)
cc:    (bcc: Richard Ranous/OES)
Subject:  Re: Repair Standards before the next one...

Its been a healthy discussion on this issue of the need for repair
Rick, Bob, Brian, Tim, Dennis and Tom. Thanks!
As with most policy considerations, we can rarely expect unanimous support
any one alternative.
On the one hand, California has a strong local/weak state system of
codes and enforcement and there is a large constituency that would like to
protect the rights of local governments to determine their own regulations.
Bob Bossi spoke on their behalf well. Those local governments that are
to take the time to tweak the code should probably be allowed to within
provided that special interests don't unduly compromise safety.
On the other hand, there are considerable numbers of design professionals
building officials that demand code uniformity. Its just plain easier to
and enforce even if its crude and unfair to some.
All 700 plus local, state and special agencies are exposed to a significant
FEMA policy change unless they take an action soon. FEMA will not reimburse
for many repairs unless local, state, and special agencies adopt a repair
prior to disasters. Perhaps there is a way to help all these agencies
their interests by considering a single action at the state level that
them all, and by still allowing local or special agency amendments at the
discretion of City Councils, Boards of Directors/Supervisors, etc.

Aren't even interim codes (like the first Riley Act in 1933) better than no
code at all? Won't more widespread use of App. Ch. 34 accelerate its
improvement? In the past, only a relative handful of local governments take
the time and have the staff and technical appointees to consider major
amendments to building codes. San Francisco is one of them where Bob Bossi
considerable experience. Most local governments don't even bother to take
City Council time with these relatively arcane, difficult-to-understand
I understand that ATC 43 has been getting some criticism from the current
SEAOC Seismology Committee. Has anyone been following this line of
To sum it up, I visualize four choices so far:
1) Take an action soon at the state level that effects all occupancies with
some wiggle room for the Bossi clans, and prevent the future loss of FEMA
disaster assistance. Then plan on updating App. Ch. 34 at some later date
consensus is achieved about better repair triggers.
2) Delay an action at the state level until such time that App. Ch. 34 can
amended to please the likes of Kehoe, et al. This could take a while
considering the full agenda of the ICC and SEAOC in the next cycle. Perhaps
this could include some politically correct committee as proposed by
But this could expose us to a disaster or two in the interim where FEMA can
play grinch. With Clinton in office, this may not be such a great risk
Presidents need California to win and they can't resist giving out money
disasters; or
3) Do nothing at the state level and encourage each local govt, state and
special agency board/council to consider adopting their own repair code.
is much like option 4 since most local governments could care less about
subject until after it happens to them, and there are far too many of them
approach in any systematic manner; or
4) Do nothing, which sounds like no one except the unknowing might desire.
Can you visualize any other options?
Is there a way to meet the needs of most everyone? Hope to hear from you
Fred Turner
Staff Structural Engineer
Ca. Seismic Safety Commission
1900 K St. #100 Sacramento, CA 95814
916-327-1606 916-322-9476 Fax

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