Long Beach officials are urging city staff to work more quickly to establish a database of the city’s buildings and their vulnerabilities in the event of a major earthquake — but it’s unclear if staff will be able to make that happen.

The city’s Director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications Reggie Harrison, along with Development Services Director Linda Tatum and Public Works Director Craig Beck, gave the City Council an update at its Tuesday, July 16 meeting on Long Beach’s efforts to prepare the city and residents for a potential earthquake.

The presentation came at the urging of Mayor Robert Garcia after the Long Beach area was shaken by back-to-back earthquakes earlier this month, both of which were centered nearly 200 miles away in Kern County.

Following the earthquakes, the Press-Telegram reported that work had not yet begun on a seismic resiliency safety base for which the City Council approved a $1.1 million contract last march.

Garcia said on Twitter after the report was published, “You can bet we are going to speed this up.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Tatum said one of the primary snags in moving forward was identifying funding resources to incentivize property-owners to retrofit their buildings as necessary.

Past efforts to convince private owners to retrofit their properties have resulted in some of them losing their properties, she said, because the scope of the retrofits proved “more substantial than property-owners could handle.”

Tatum said further work with a contractor on the database — and on finding funding resources — would likely take another two years.

Garcia, for his part, said Tuesday he would like to see that timeline “cut in half.”

“That’s just a little bit longer than I think most of us would like,” he said about the two-year estimate.

Assistant City Manager Tom Modica responded by saying city staff could likely take on the work piece by piece to try to speed up the process, but it was unclear how much of an impact that could have on the project’s completion as a whole.

Regardless, Garcia and council members also praised city staff on their work to keep residents updated in the hours following the two earthquakes.

“I was reminded, as I had conversations with (city officials) and others in the minutes following both of the quakes, that this information is really important to review,” Garcia said, “and to continue to review and to continue going through our preparedness consistently.”

Garcia also took the occasion to mention the upcoming opening of the new Civic Center later this month. The new building’s construction was prompted in part because of seismic concerns with the current government buildings.

“We’re moving out all of the employees in this building,” Garcia said, “which is a structurally unsound facility, to a facility that is up to the latest standards on earthquake preparedness. It’s important. I’m glad we’re making progress.”

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