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Seismic Risk

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I'm working on a subcommittee of the SEA Oregon reviewing some topics in the draft FEMA 356 - Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings.  The question arises as to how the level of risk was deamed appropriate for design purposes?
We all know the ground motion parameters (10%/50yr  &etc.), but WHY were they chosen?  Is there an actuarial basis?  Cost benefit?  10 old guys around a table?
Any thoughts or ideas out there?
Larry Oeth
Portland, OR