One out of four buildings could crumble in San Francisco if another Loma Prieta size earthquake strikes. 30,000 of San Francisco's 120,000 buildings might be destroyed in an earthquake similar to 1989's Loma Prieta rumble according to a San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) report. Most at risk are "soft-story" residential buildings, which are generally homes or apartments built above parking lots and retail spaces.
Nearly half the homes damaged in the '89 quake were soft-story structures. Since the most vulnerable buildings are residential, the post-quake recovery efforts could be hampered by massive homelessness much like the displacement... snip
A recent report from the city's Department of Building Inspection suggests that $1.5 billion in damages could be avoided if 2,800 of the at-risk structures were required to retrofit for earthquake safety.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has not been in favor of mandatory retrofits, though is reconsidering his stance after recent reports.
However, with the city budget in arrears, real estate prices plummeting and the credit crunch affecting projects like the mayor's pet solar panel rebate program, any government mandated seismic safety program will likely prove unpopular.
At least, until it's too late.
The dry, cloudless skies San Franciscans have been enjoying of late is sometimes superstitiously referred to as "earthquake weather" among residents, and scientists predict that the next tectonic dance party will be significantly more powerful than the one twenty years ago.
1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
Loma Prieta earthquake Date October 17, 1989
Magnitude 6.9 Mw
Depth: 18 kilometres (11 mi)
Epicenter location: Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, California
Countries/regions affected United States (San Francisco Bay Area)
Max. intensity: VIII - Destructive Casualties: 63 killed, 3,757 injured
The Loma Prieta earthquake, also known as the Quake of '89 and the World Series Quake, was a major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area of California on October 17, 1989 at 5:04 p.m. local time. Caused by a slip along the San Andreas Fault, the earthquake lasted approximately 15 seconds and measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale (surface-wave magnitude 7.1).
The quake killed 63 people throughout northern California, injured 3,757 people and left some 8,000 to 12,000 people homeless.
The earthquake occurred during the warm-up for the third game of the 1989 World Series, coincidentally featuring both of the Bay Area's Major League Baseball teams, the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. This was the first major earthquake in America to be broadcast on live television.