Blumenfield Secures Support for Earthquake Resiliency Financing Program

Council approves motion to include seismic upgrades in PACE program 

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles City Council today took necessary action to include seismic retrofits in the state’s successful Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. PACE allows property owners to finance specific upgrades through an assessment on their property taxes. The move is designed to give property owners a practical tool to help finance the costs of necessary retrofits that will enhance our city’s resiliency in the event of a major earthquake.

“For Los Angeles, the question is not ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ we will face our next major earthquake,” said Councilmember Blumenfield. “It is crucial that state and local governments work collaboratively with property owners to help them manage retrofit costs, because the costs of inaction are too great.”

In December, Mayor Eric Garcetti and his Science Advisor for Seismic Safety, USGS Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones released a series of recommendations to enhance Los Angeles’s earthquake resiliency. Among the recommendations made by Dr. Jones and her team of technical experts is mandatory retrofit of Los Angeles’s approximately 16,000 soft-first story buildings. Soft story buildings are wood frame buildings where the first floor has large openings, for example tuck-under parking, garage doors, and retail display windows.

Los Angeles lost 49,000 housing units in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, two-thirds of which were soft-first story buildings.

“Without such a tool, compliance would be financially out of reach for many property owners. It’s important that we add PACE financing to the toolbox ahead of the passage of a retrofit mandate,” concluded Blumenfield.

As an Assemblymember, Blumenfield authored and passed the legislation that expanded the PACE program for energy conservation and added new provisions for water efficiency upgrades. He also was a strong proponent of the 2011 legislation that added seismic retrofits to the program. Last year, as a Councilmember, Blumenfield successfully pushed for City participation in PACE’s water and energy financing programs. Today’s action to make Los Angeles a participant in the related seismic PACE programs is a logical extension of his work.

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