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Degenkolb Reflects on SEAOSC Summit

The successful, two-day 2016 SEAOSC "Strengthening Our Cities" Summit wrapped up on Friday November 18. The release of the Safer Cities Survey showing the progress (and the lack thereof) with the development and implementation of seismic ordinances was eye-opening. Dr. Lucy Jones and numerous expert speakers and panelists shared some excellent insights. We asked some of our participating engineers what was their biggest take away from the summit:

David Williams, S.E., Project Engineer, Co-Chair, 2016 SEAOSC Summit, Moderator, Back to Business, Business Resumption Programs
Get a back-to-business program in place now! The panel discussed how in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, there was a scarcity of building officials to inspect structures after the event. As a result, there was increased downtime for businesses otherwise able to operate in the wake of the earthquake, due to the unknown safety of their buildings. Subsequently, a public-private partnership was formed so building owners could contract with a private engineer through the city’s program, allowing businesses to resume operation as soon as possible. Forward thinking cities such as Glendale and Costa Mesa have implemented such programs. Every city can make this happen. Having these programs in place prior to a large seismic event allows the cities to bounce back and thrive much quicker.

Matt Barnard, S.E., Principal, SEAOSC Board Member, Presenter of the SEAOSC Safer Cities Advisory Program
The results of the Safer Cities Survey are stunning. It captured the notion that while cities like Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica are taking on the challenge of non-ductile concrete and soft-story structures, it’s only the first step in protecting our communities from potentially hazardous buildings. I was privileged to go to Haiti and help out a bit after the 2010 earthquake and saw for myself that buildings with certain deficiencies actually perform exactly how we think they do and that scares me. I hope that the survey results are a wake-up call to each of us to challenge our communities to step-up and fix these problems before it is too late. I was also very proud to be able to introduce SEAOSC’s Safer Cities Advisory Program. It’s complementary to what some of the cities are already doing and a great way to leverage talent within the SEAOSC membership. 

Kamal Kalsi, S.E., Project Engineer, Member of the SEAOC EPRS Committee, Presenter on Practical Applications of Performance Based Engineering
There is great interest in Performance Based Design (PBD). PBD allows engineers to design new buildings to meet a desired performance rating instead of a code based prescriptive design. PBD can help reduce the cost and extent of work for seismic retrofits, especially in existing structures, while gaining confidence in how a building will perform during a big earthquake. By utilizing PBD on a recent retrofit project, we were able to reduce the required size of the new foundation by 30% resulting in significant cost and disruption savings to our client while significantly improving the building's expected seismic performance. PBD can require added time for the design team, but the reduction in construction and disruption outweighs added design cost. It is not the solution for every project but definitely something to consider.

Daniel Zepeda, S.E., Principal, Chair of the SEAOSC Existing Building Committee, Panelist, “How Policy Creates Safer Cities”
As was shared by the panel, policy is the missing piece to creating safer cities. As engineers, we know what is wrong with existing buildings. We know how to fix what is wrong. However, until effective policy with the support of all of the stakeholders is in place, our buildings will remain at status quo. This is something none of us should accept. While challenging, I went beyond my technical expertise and dove into the world of policy by working with the Cities of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica on their seismic programs and ordinances. It has proven to be some of the most rewarding work that I have experienced. It’s important that the engineering community step up and engage our city governments and become part of the policy discussion. As Ashley Atkinson, Sr. Planning and Development Manager for Mayor Garcetti’s office shared, many in government do not have a technical background and they want our advice.
Read the Safer Cities Survey here: 2016 Safer Cities Survey
For further information, please contact Matt Barnard at, (213) 596-5000

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Posted by tinabarni on November 29, 2016 5:52 PM
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