Seismic Safety Bill Vetoed in California

Gov. Jerry Brown promised in his veto message to ask the California Seismic Safety Commission and other seismic experts "to provide recommendations that identify an achievable path toward improving the safety of earthquake-vulnerable buildings."

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have required some cities and counties, those located in California's most seismically vulnerable areas, to create lists of buildings that could be at greater risk of major damage or collapse in earthquakes. State legislators had passed AB 2681 in September, sending it to Brown for his signature, but his Sept. 28 veto message explained why he chose not to sign it into law.

"I am returning Assembly Bill 2681 without my signature," his message said. "This bill requires local building departments in seismically active areas to submit an inventory of potentially vulnerable buildings to the Office of Emergency Services by January 1, 2021 and requires the Office to develop a statewide inventory of those buildings by January 1, 2023.

"I agree with the author's goal to mitigate the effects of a large-scale earthquake. I am concerned, however, that this bill will not provide the greatest value for the significant investment this enterprise requires.

"A more suitable approach is to develop a partnership between the state, local governments and building owners to develop a plan to cost effectively identify collapse prone buildings and a realistic timetable to develop an inventory.

"Therefore, I will ask the California Seismic Safety Commission and other seismic experts to provide recommendations that identify an achievable path toward improving the safety of earthquake-vulnerable buildings."

The bill would have, upon the identification of funding by the Office of Emergency Services, required the building department of a city or county that meets specified requirements to create an inventory of potentially vulnerable buildings and submit that inventory to the office, which would then maintain a statewide inventory, identify funding mechanisms to offset costs to building departments and building owners, and report to the Legislature on the number of potentially vulnerable buildings and the compliance of building departments.

The bill would have required the owner of a building identified by a building department as a potentially vulnerable building to retain a licensed professional engineer to identify whether the building meets the definition of a potentially vulnerable building.

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