Tag Archives: seismic



Pack Your Bags

I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).

This week:

Angelenos try not to think about the shifting plates beneath their feet and their wheels, but everyone knows the Big One is coming — and a bad enough one is coming sooner than that.

Short of moving somewhere where tectonics aren’t quite as disconcerting (i.e., where it snows) there isn’t much we can do about earthquakes. But we can prepare for the worst by mitigating the damage.

Toward that end, Los Angeles city building officials are creating a list of “soft story” wood-frame buildings that were built before 1978. “Soft-story structures often are built over carports and held up with slender columns, leaving the upper floors to crash into ground-floor apartments during shaking,” Rosanna Xia and Rong-Gong Lin II report in the Times.

There are probably about 6,000 of these buildings. The city says it will take at least a year to complete a list. After that, a retrofitting program will be put in place.

But what if an earthquake happens between now and then? It’s not like Mother (or, not to be sexist, Father) Nature waits for bureaucracy to work its magic.

Yeah, I’m a negative cuss.

So anyway, I began thinking about what, if anything, could be done to stave off the inevitable for at least a year — because the idea that this can wait another year is both horrible and amusing at the same time. How do these people think? Walk softly? Pray?

I know. They’re just civil servants trying to do their jobs with shrinking budgets and limited resources. But if, God or fire demon forbid, something bad happens before that retrofit project is finished, everyone is going look back and wonder why we didn’t throw money at it to get it done faster.


If God Existed

I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).

This week: After the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, California began an ambitious effort to map faults across the state. Over the next two decades, officials published 534 maps of active earthquake faults. New construction was prohibited on top of these fissures because previous quakes showed that buildings could be torn apart during violent shaking. But the mapping campaign has slowed to a crawl — with many dangerous faults still undocumented. Since 1991, only 23 have been drawn. Because of budget cuts, none were completed between 2004 and 2011, according to records reviewed by The Times. State officials said there are still about 300 maps to draw and even more to revise — including some in heavily populated areas of Southern California. That represents about 2,000 miles of faults statewide.