Some experts are warning what happened in Haiti could happen here. There may be dozens, possibly hundreds of buildings in the city of Los Angeles capable of collapsing in a major earthquake and causing thousands of deaths. These buildings are part of a group called non-ductile concrete structures. Built primarily before 1976, they have weak columns that can become brittle in a major quake, causing collapse. There are an estimated 2,000 of these buildings, but only a small amount — perhaps 5 percent to 10 percent — are possible killer buildings.
The city of Los Angeles has known about these vulnerable buildings for years and yet efforts to address them have gone nowhere. The threat is of such concern, UCLA professors are now conducting an inventory of these buildings and plan to hand it over to city officials who will then decide what to do next.