LOCAL NEWS

Seattle plans to finally address over 1,100 buildings at risk of collapse in earthquake

Dec 7, 2021, 10:12 AM | Updated: 11:17 am
Seattle unreinforced masonry buildings...
Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood. (Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons)
(Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons)

Seismologists tend to agree on the idea that the Puget Sound region’s next major earthquake is less a question of “if” and more about “when.” With over 1,100 buildings in Seattle that would be vulnerable to collapse in the event of a such a quake, city leaders could soon address that head on.

20 years after Nisqually, Washington still isn’t ready for next big earthquake

Those at-risk structures are known more formally as “unreinforced masonry buildings” (URMs), most of which were built before 1945, without modern building codes. The vast majority of Seattle’s URMs can be found in historic neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, the International District, Columbia City, and Ballard. Across the state of Washington, a troubling number of those buildings are also schools, with no requirements to improve them.

Seattle City Councilmembers hope to address that in the form of a newly-proposed resolution, which outlines the council and mayor’s “intent to consider strategies to ensure that all unreinforced masonry buildings in Seattle are seismically retrofitted.”

While the resolution itself is nonbinding, it outlines a plan that the council would hope to begin work on in the near future. That would include standards surrounding seismic retrofits, a way to properly identify and categorize the buildings most at risk, coordination across city departments to streamline the process, and eventually, draft legislation that codifies mandatory URM retrofit requirements.

Why a Nisqually-type earthquake is far more likely than ‘the Big One’

What that would look like in practice remains to be seen, particularly given the relatively high costs such requirements could impose on privately-owned buildings.

“There needs to be a number of different modalities for people to choose to either retrofit, or make it easier for them to tear the building down,” Seismologist Bill Steele told MyNorthwest in March. “If it’s in a historic zone that you really want to preserve, then maybe the public has a role to play in investing in maintaining that resource. One way or another, we need a way to make it possible for privately owned buildings to be retrofit, actually require it, and spread the pain out in a reasonable way.”

For now, the council’s initial resolution will be introduced in its public safety committee on Thursday.

Local News

Bellevue...
KIRO 7 News Staff

77-year-old Bellevue woman stops home intruder in landslide neighborhood

Thieves hit the neighborhood impacted by the Bellevue landslide but didn’t get away with much, thanks to one brave 77-year-old woman.
20 hours ago
national guard...
Stephanie Klein

National Guard arrives to Harborview Medical Center to help with COVID testing

A Seattle hospital official says the arrival of 10 army soldiers on Friday is a huge help.
2 days ago
End restrictions...
Nick Bowman

UW modelers: State might finally be able to end ‘major restrictions’ once omicron wave passes

Modelers at UW's Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation believe that we could be nearing the end stages of major virus-related restrictions. 
2 days ago
Long term care insurance...
Nicole Jennings

Analyst’s advice for Washingtonians who got private long-term care insurance

An Association of Washington Business analyst explains the outlook for private long-term care insurance now that the WA Cares tax will likely be delayed.
2 days ago
COVID tests...
MyNorthwest Staff

Washington households can order at-home rapid COVID tests at no cost

The state Department of Health is going live with its portal to order free at-home COVID tests that ship directly to households.
2 days ago
Bobcat...
MyNorthwest Staff

Bobcat watches from side of road as WSDOT crews plow SR 20 near Colville

WSDOT crews had an unexpected observer while plowing snowy roads near Colville earlier this week, with a bobcat watching them work.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Seattle plans to finally address over 1,100 buildings at risk of collapse in earthquake