Photo: Yaffa Phillips/Flickr
We all remember the viral New Yorker article “The Really Big One,” which warned Seattleites of the terrifying magnitude 9.0 earthquake that is set to shake up the Pacific Northwest. If you’re wondering whether or not you’re safe inside that charming but dilapidated brick apartment building of yours, The Seattle Times has answers.
The Seattle Times recently requested a list from the city of all the buildings that are still not earthquake ready. The list names 1,163 buildings all over the city that are at risk of dangerous destruction in the event of a major quake.
Currently, there are no laws in Seattle that require buildings to have a seismic upgrade. California passed an earthquake-safe building code in 1986, while Oregon raised funding to transition its buildings last year. But Seattle is woefully unprepared.
According to the Times, Washington’s Seismic Safety Council flagged the danger of unreinforced masonry in 1986, and again in 1991. The group urged legislation and executive action to strengthen the buildings. No action has been taken yet.
Perhaps the worst part is that landlords are not legally obligated to disclose to tenants that they are living in an unreinforced building. Landlords may not be able to afford the cost of retrofitting without raising rent and driving out tenants who can’t afford to live there anymore. Yet justifying that this should be paid for by the public is a hard bargain for the city to swallow.
Seattle’s latest list of buildings shows where the danger lives, but not how to fix it. How much are Seattleites willing to do as a community to stay safe when the big one hits?