NAPA (CBS SF) — An engineering expert is blasting Napa building owners for failing to retrofit their properties and calling on building owners statewide to update their properties as mandated by a state law passed 24 years ago.

Reinhard Ludke, former president of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), said in a prepared statement it was fortunate Sunday’s 6.0 earthquake that shook Napa and Sonoma Counties occurred when it did.

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“Napa was lucky that the earthquake occurred at 3:00 am and not 3:00 pm … when the crowded streets would have resulted in many more injuries and possible fatalities,” said Ludke.

“SEAOC questions why unreinforced masonry buildings have not been retrofitted [for the past] 20 years, when every earthquake causes bricks, concrete and poorly supported masonry to collapse to the sidewalks and streets,.” said Ludke’s statement. “This is a life safety hazard.  We say, ‘Retrofit all unreinforced masonry buildings now.’”

Following the original publication of this story, a spokesman for the statewide SEAOC clarified that former regional president Reinhard Ludke’s opinion and statement does not reflect that of the organization.


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According to the California Seismic Safety Commission, there were 6,580 unreinforced masonry buildings in the Bay Area in 2006, about half of which had not been retrofitted. Progress has been slow since then, according to officials.

Napa passed an ordinance in 2006 requiring owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to finish seismic retrofits by 2009.

According to Napa Director of Community Development Rick Tooker, six building owners failed to comply by the deadline, and of those six, three buildings were in the planning stages of the retrofits.

The owner of those three buildings, Brian Silver, has had three violation notices sent to him over the last two years, according to the Los Angeles Times

Silver told the Times he hasn’t been able to afford the cost of retrofitting his building but now has money to pay for the retrofits.

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