The 2017 SEAOSC Strengthening Our Cities Summit will be held from November 7-8, 2017

The annual Summit brings together important stakeholders in the building community to discuss how to create safer and more resilient communities that are able to prepare for and recover from earthquakes. Technical experts work together with the financial, real estate and insurance sectors to better understand the risks of earthquakes to our buildings and how to mitigate losses.

Past Summits have developed numerous strategies to raise awareness of all that needs to be done to identify and mitigate risks to our communities. Some of these successes include:

  • Safer Cities Survey. “When organizing last year’s Strengthening Our Cities Summit, we came up with an idea to survey various Southern California cities about their efforts to promote resiliency,” stated David Cocke, SE, member of the SEAOSC Safer Cities Survey Task Group. “As a group, we designed a questionnaire for The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society to use to collect the data. The results are very valuable because they provide a baseline for the ongoing efforts to improve our communities’ resilience.”

The Safer Cities Survey took a comprehensive look at what critical policies have been implemented in Southern California. According to the Los Angeles Times, the survey “found that most local governments in the region have done nothing to mandate retrofits of important building types known to be at risk, such as concrete and wooden apartment buildings.” The Survey highlights how the high population density of the SoCal region coupled with the numerous earthquake faults and aging buildings is an issue that needs to be addressed by all jurisdictions as soon as possible.

The Survey offers key recommendations on how cities can directly address these hazards and reduce earthquake risks. As a starting point, the Safer Cities Survey recommends that cities adopt a “Back-to-Business” or “Building Re-Occupancy Program”, which would “create partnerships between private parties and the City to allow rapid review of buildings in concert with City safety assessments…Back-to-Business programs…[allow] private parties to activate pre-qualified assessment teams, who became familiar with specific buildings to shorten evaluation time [and] support city inspections.” Several cities have already adopted these types of programs, including San Francisco and Glendale.

  • As a result of the conversations at the Summit and the relationship between SEAOSC and the City of Los Angeles, the City requested input from the association to advise on the development of the 2015 Los Angeles Retrofit Ordinance.
  • Safer Cities Advisory Program. SEAOSC is currently providing support to interested cities across Southern California to develop their own ordinances.
  • The Summit has also served as a catalyst for news coverage of the importance of safer buildings, resulting in radio interviews, local television coverage and newspapers articles that raise awareness.  

The white paper, “Building Community Partnerships through Strategic Outreach: the SEAOSC Strengthening Our Cities Summit and Safer Cities Survey,” written by the SEAOSC Safer Cities Survey Task Group elaborates on these initiatives. Read the complete paper.