H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Apr 17, 2013 9:28 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

14 unreinforced masonry buildings left in San Luis Obispo

Part of the charm of Downtown San Luis Obispo, some would say, is the architecture of many of its buildings. Hundreds of businesses though, are in unreinforced masonry buildings.

The city council, according to its website, was prompted to strengthen unreinforced buildings following seismic activity, like the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake. The council decided to make a deadline to fix all the buildings by 2015. California state law actually now requires cities to put up a placard on unreinforced masonry buildings to warn people that they may not be safe if around or inside.

San Luis Obispo Chief Building Official Joseph Lease said there are 126 unreinforced masonry buildings in the city but, 112 of them have been strengthened and reinforced.

"So we have 14 that remain, and all 14 of those are in some phase of development in a review process, part of a larger development process, and we're expecting that they'll all be reinforced in the next couple of years," said Lease.

Lease said, however, even if a building has been reinforced, one will still see a warning sign- just a smaller version. He said the reinforced masonry buildings, which most are found in the downtown area, will never be up to code as a modern building.

He said, "These buildings are reinforced to a level where they, to protect the safety of the occupants, they're probably not going to collapse in a significant earthquake, but there may be some damage."

Lease told KSBY News that it would be devastating for the downtown community to have all masonry buildings torn down, though they may not be as secure as modern buildings.

Lease also suggested that if one is ever in a masonry building during an earthquake, to not run out, rather seek shelter inside of the building.

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