By City News Service
Los Angeles city officials Thursday formally requested a list of about 1,500 concrete buildings around the city that may be at risk of collapsing during an earthquake.
The database was compiled by UC Berkeley researchers who have been apprehensive about giving up the information, fearing it would be used to single out specific buildings and prompt lawsuits.
The researchers refused a previous request by the city asking for the list.
Raymond Chan, head of the city's Building and Safety Department, sent a letter to UC Berkeley engineering professor Jack P. Moehle requesting "any available data, including available lists of properties or structures that may assist the city in evaluating its building inventory."
According to the Los Angeles Times, several of the potentially at-risk buildings are in Studio City and nearby.
Chan's request was underscored by Mayor Eric Garcetti's spokesman, Jeff Millman, who confirmed the city wants the information.
The UC Berkeley student publication The Daily Californian earlier this week quoted Building and Safety spokesman Luke Zamperini saying the city was not interested in the list because it is just one part of a larger, unfinished study.
Moehle was not immediately available for comment, but according to Chan's letter, researchers previously expressed concerns that releasing the information would cause "undue and unnecessary alarm," especially if it used to target specific buildings.
Chan reassured researchers the city would find the information useful, even though it may be incomplete and does not "reflect the structural integrity of specific buildings."
Garcetti and other city leaders in recent weeks have been under pressure to revisit long-held concerns about the safety of older concrete buildings suspected of being vulnerable to earthquakes.
The city has a voluntary program for retro-fitting such buildings, but stopped short of mandating it due to pressure from property owners who complained about the costs.
Concerns about earthquake safety have dogged city leaders in recent months.
Attention was first focused on concerns that a proposed multimillion- dollar skyscraper project might be built on the Hollywood earthquake fault. Those fears later spread to other structures throughout the city suspected of not being sufficiently protected against earthquakes.
To address these worries, Garcetti said he plans to bring in a "chief resilience officer" to assess the city's preparedness during earthquakes.
City Council members have also called for studies of at-risk concrete buildings.