LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — San Bernardino City Manager Mark Scott says it’s time to relocate the city’s offices and city council dais to a more earthquake-secure location.
The city made the unusual decision to close its city hall on Monday and Tuesday due to elevated risk of an earthquake, calling attention to the building’s noncompliance with current building codes.
San Bernardino City Hall was completed in 1972 but doesn’t comply with codes enacted in the wake of a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that struck Sylmar in 1971, killing dozens of people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage.
The building is situated in a precariously earthquake-prone location — the San Andreas fault is visible from the roof, Monica Lagos, San Bernardino’s manager of communications, said.
The six-story glass building is occupied by about 200 workers on a given day and has been known to shake in recent earthquakes. The building was closed for a day in December after a 4.4.-magnitude earthquake centered in Devore rattled some workers, although no structural damage to the building was reported. The next month, a quake centered in Banning shook the building yet again.
“Five minutes later it was still swaying,” Lagos said.
Last year, the city commissioned consultants to explore the costs of retrofitting city hall to comply with the modern building code. The cost was determined to be about $20 million — a considerable expense for a city in its fifth year of bankruptcy. It’s unclear how the retrofit would be financed.
Scott is hoping for a more modest alternative, for now — moving the city’s offices to a nearby city-owned space by the beginning of next year.
Meanwhile, city hall is scheduled to reopen Wednesday. The earthquake warning expired Tuesday.
Amado Landin, a building designer who was at city hall Tuesday seeking permits, said the building’s design still makes him nervous.
“We don’t know if the footings underneath these columns are strong enough,” he said.